Volume 5, Book 9, Chapters 6-11

A Disturbance; Many Parallels with Emma; The Handling of Time; A Calm; Rasselas and Austen Parallels; An Alarm; A Suspense; Cecilia's money; Why Is There No Sex in Cecilia?; A Relation; A Marriage which is not consummated; An Enterprise; The Wedding Finally Committed

To Austen-l

From Jill Spriggs

October 4, 1998

Subject: Cecilia, Vol. V, Bk. IX, Ch. VI, A Disturbance

Cecilia wished to spend her last day in London with Henrietta, but did not wish to again submit herself to the insinuations of Mrs. Belfield, nor to the surmises of Mr. Delvile, who seemed to have a watch out on the apartment. A note would do the trick. Henrietta replied by asking why Cecilia had not come to see her when she had promised, regretting the fact that she could not come without her mother's permission and her mother was out of the house, and even when her mother returned, the roads were too muddy for her to be able to walk. She also bewailed the possibility that Cecilia might leave town without seeing her.

Why could Cecilia not have sent the coach for her when her mother returned from marketing?

Cecilia decided to chance seeing her. Henrietta was still alone, and they repaired to the back parlor where they could chat in comfort and privacy. She told Cecilia of the sad scene there was when Mr. Belfield came to see them, and how her mother " ... would never be at rest until he got into some higher way of life." (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 773) Henrietta told Cecilia how Mortimer had inquired into the circumstances of Belfield's employment at the home of Lord Vannelt's home. He had found that Belfield had been a big pain in the rear: " ' ... this gentleman would not have wished my brother to be used ill any more than I should have myself, so I am sure I may believe what he says. But my poor brother, not being a lord himself, thought every body meant to be rude to him, and because he knew he was poor, he suspected they all behaved disrespectfully to him. But this gentleman gave me his word that every body liked him and esteemed him, and if he would not have been so suspicious, they would all have done any thing for him in the world.' " (p. 774)

Cecilia gently probed into the secrets of Henrietta's passion for Mortimer, and found that what she thought had been a letter from him to Henrietta had proved to be nothing more than the envelope for one meant for her brother. Henrietta's keeping and treasuring this relic reminds me more than a little of Harriet's treasure trove of mementos of Mr. Elton.

Henrietta's rhapsodies about the virtues of the upper crust must have seemed fatuous to Cecilia, who had experiences so much to the contrary of Henrietta's. The artless girl realized Cecilia knew the object of her hopeless (though she did not know it) love. Cecilia must have been pained at Henrietta's confidence that Cecilia, being the child of fortune, must never have any clouds on her horizon. " ' O how often do I think that you, madam, are the happiest person in the world! with every thing at your disposal, -- with every body in love with you, with all the money that you can wish for, and so much sweetness than nobody can envy you it! with power to keep just what company you please, and every body proud to be one of the number! Oh if I could chuse who I would be, I would sooner say Miss Beverley than any princess in the world!' " (p. 777)

Shows how much she knew!

Henrietta confided her matrimonial philosophy to Cecilia, revealing unwittingly her own hopes: " ' I often think that the rich would be as much happier for marrying the poor, as the poor for marrying the rich, for then they would take somebody that would try to deserve their kindness, and now they only take those that know they have a right to it. Often and often have I thought so about this very gentleman! and sometimes when I have been in his company, and seen his civility and he sweetness, I have fancied I was rich and grand myself, and it has quite gone out of my head that I was nothing but poor Henrietta Belfield!' " (pp. 777 - 778)

Does the name Henrietta not resemble Harriet? This is sounding more and more like Emma; now Harriet's hopeless love for Mr. Knightly, versus Henrietta's for Mortimer. Both artless pretty girls, of humble circumstances. Henrietta also strikes me as being something less than terribly bright.

Just as Henrietta was confiding to Cecilia her secret hopes, her mother came home, with Mr. Delvile close on her heels.

Cecilia's initial reaction to the arrival of Mr. Delvile was flight, but it was cut off by the presence in the hall of his servants, so she determined to wait out his visit, the thinness of the walls making her an unwilling eavesdropper.

While the following scene was understandably upsetting to Cecilia, I could not help being amused by the spectacle of the grandiose Mr. Delvile trying to cow the bewildered Mrs. Belfield. Feeling that all citizens of London should instinctively recognize his greatness, as well as his name, Mr. Delvile declined to give it to his confused hostess. He assured her that it was not necessary for him to conduct his business with her, and declined to have a seat while he sent down his commands from on high.

Mr. Delvile opened by asking if " ' ... there is not a young person of rather capital fortune, to whom he [her son] is supposed to make proposals?' " (p. 780) Cecilia was prematurely relieved by Mrs. Belfield's unequivocal denial. Disappointed, Mr. Delvile prepared to leave, but unfortunately added, " ' And there is no young person, you say, who favours his pretensions?' " He had found just the right question; Mrs. Belfield's confidence on this subject was painfully known to Cecilia. " ' Lord no, Sir! he might have had her again and again only for asking! She came after him ever so often ...' " (p. 781) Of course Mrs. Belfield had to worsen matters by elaborating: " ' ... as to this young lady, she found him out, Sir, when not one of his own natural friends could tell where in the world he was gone! She was the first, Sir, to come and tell me news of him, though I was his own mother! Love, Sir, is prodigious for quickness! it can see, I sometimes think, through bricks and mortar.' " (p. 781)

It was only with difficulty that Cecilia could resist bursting in upon them to set them both straight.

Mrs. Belfield then alluded to the reported prospective match between Mortimer and Cecilia, an idea which Mr. Delvile greeted with displeasure, especially when Mrs. Belfield intimated, " ' I never heard they were any so rich, and I dare say the old gentleman, being her guardian, took care to put his son enough in her way, however it came about that they did not make a match of it, for as to old Mr. Delvile, all the world says ...' " (p. 782) Mr. Delvile did not wish to hear what the world had to say about him. He had been unwise not to reveal his identity; Mrs. Belfield spoke with all the authority of one in the know: " ' I never heard any good of him in my life, for they say he's as proud as Lucifer, and nobody knows what it's of, for they say -- ' 'They say?' cried he, firing with rage,' and who are they? be so good as inform me that?' Lord, every body, Sir! it's his common character.' " (p. 782)

As Mr. Delvile prepared to leave in a fury, wouldn't you know that Mr. Belfield would choose that moment to return, and of course he would enter the room where Cecilia was hiding from Mr. Delvile. Henrietta tried to warn him to silence, and Cecilia was very annoyed her friend had not told her that the room in which they were conversing was her brother's. Since Cecilia was such a luckless sort, of course the ever present Mr. Hobson had to blunder in at that point and tried to engage the unreceptive Mr. Delvile in conversation. It was he that pointed out to Mr. Delvile that there were two chairs present in the hallway, and His Haughtiness soon discovered to whom the other chair belonged. Well could Cecilia "... cast herself out the window to avoid being discovered...", (p. 785) but there being insufficient time for this remedy, of course she was surprised in Belfield's room, apparently alone with him; Henrietta, afraid of her mother's wrath, hiding herself.

Burney put it, for a change, succinctly: "Such was the situation of the discovered, abashed, perplexed, and embarrassed! while that of the discoverers, far different, was bold, delighted, and triumphant!" (p. 785)

Vainly did Belfield and Cecilia try to clear themselves; Mr. Delvile receiving more satisfaction from his visit than he ever expected, Mrs. Belfield winking for all she was worth at the confirmation of her claims.

Cecilia in a huff, coldly taking leave of her cowardly friend, had plenty food for thought on her trip back to Lady Margaret's home. She knew well that all the circumstances of her visit would be communicated to Mortimer and Mrs. Delvile, and she was afraid the relation would shake even their fond confidence in her. She could think of no way she could clear herself with either the mother or her son.

In the evening Cecilia was surprised to receive a visit from the repentant Henrietta. When her mother had gone out, Henrietta had alone, in the rain, the dark, and the muck, braved the elements and the danger, to beg forgiveness of Cecilia. Her brother was usually at the bookseller's all day, consulting with other authors on the art of writing, and Henrietta did not tell Cecilia of the true function of the room, fearing she would refuse to use it. She pleaded that Cecilia forgive her, and not give up their friendship. Cecilia of course did; she did not have an overabundance of selfless friends. She wished to invite Henrietta to come to her home in the country, but did not know how to do so without confirming the suspicions of Mr. Delvile and Mrs. Belfield.

No more did Cecilia return to the uncongenial home of Lady Margaret, either in the country or the city. She would board with a country family the one month still needed to complete the renovations of her new home. She would not long enjoy her residence.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney: Cecilia,V:9:6: Many Parallels with Emma

I am also struck by the many parallels in characterisation, plot-line, devices, and also language between the two stories of Harriet's love for Knightley criss-crossing Emma's, and Henrietta's love for Mortimer criss-crossing Cecilia's, and Henrietta's and Harriet's characters and their dependent apparent near worship of Cecilia and Emma respectively.

There are a few significant differences: while late in this week's Henrietta is shown to be suffering when Cecilia at long last accepts Mortimer's proposal, she asserts and we are asked to believe she feels no resentment or envy towards Cecilia. This is unreal. We don't see Harriet in Emma again, and are told that Emma knew she needed to cut the relationship off, and gives us to understand that when they met there's a strong undercurrent of repressed resentment on Harriet's part -- until of course the deus ex machina return of Robert Martin's presence.

I thought we were not necessarily supposed to reject Henrietta's envy of the rich and belief that they are somehow different. I agree with Jill that Cecilia's adventures are shaped so that we are asked to see how worthless money has been to her, how her inheritance has only drawn to her hangers-on, liars, Machiavels, and cringing poor, but Burney has also equally shown us how a few shillings count enormously. It's the old debate between Hemingway and Fitzgerald: the latter said the rich are different, to which the former replied, yeah, they have more money. Fitzgerald has a point, and especially in Burney's time before the spread of education to people below a certain income. The rich probably did seem and perhaps were

"a different species! -- they are so gentle, so soft- mannered! nothing comes from them but what is meant to oblige! they seem as if they only lived to give pleasure to other people, and as if they never thought at all of themselves" (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 775).

Of course the latter sentence contains naive nonsense and I suppose we are to think this is a description of Cecilia as she appears to Henrietta. It's just I have a gut feeling Burney would have expected us to see Henrietta was partly right.

So many of Henrietta's lines bring Harriet to mind:

"he is so above me . . . I only admire him for his goodness to my brother, and never think of him at all, but just by way of comparing him, sometimes, to other people I see, because he makes me hate them so, that I wish I was never to see them again" (p. 776).

This is again tilts into the unreal by its extravagant close, but the opening reminds me of Harriet trying to tell Emma of her love for Knightley by urging her inferiority and that of all the world to him, and his goodness and how she just likes to think of him.

When Mr Delvile finds Cecilia and Belfield alone in Belfield's room, I thought to myself how would Mrs Jennings have behaved had she confronted Willoughby and Marianne alone in Mrs Smith's house. There was a good sentence here: "Cecilia at this dispute could with pleasure hav cast herself out of the window" (p. 785).

I agree the scene between Mrs Belfield and Mr Delvile is funny: Sir Walter meets Mrs Bennet or Mrs Jennings? Not quite because Mrs B and Mrs J come from higher echelons of society, yet the vulgarity and absurd transparency of the former and the practical common sense of the latter who would see a Mr Delvile or Sir Walter as an ass are not far from Mrs Belfield (who does not quite see Delvile is an ass, only somehow feels something is absurd or amiss with him).

Re: Burney: Cecilia,V:9:6-7: The Handling of Time

I don't know if others notice how Burney does not handle the passing of time with the psychological verisimilitude of Austen. In the next chapter one paragraph puts Cecilia in her house; another; another tells us a month passes; Mrs Harrel is brought in; we are told much time passed before Cecilia brought in Henrietta; by the end of the chapter we are told Cecilia lived in her house for a year. But we don't feel a year has passed. Nothing has been done to make us experience the passing of time imaginatively. Again when Burney had the epistolary form, it of itself conveyed the passing of time by its slowness and dating system; without it she is lost.

Ellen Moody

Dear Ellen;

In next week's reading, when the attorney of Mr. Eggleston is calling on Cecilia, he states that it was eight months since the "wedding" he did not know was aborted by Miss Bennet. So it was not quite a year. I agree that the passage of time was not made very convincing.


Subject: Re: Burney: Cecilia To: AUSTEN-L@LISTS.MCGILL.CA

When I read the lines quoted by Ellen from this Chapter and spoken by Henrietta Belfield -

"a different species! -- they are so gentle, so soft- mannered! nothing comes from them but what is meant to oblige! they seem as if they only lived to give pleasure to other people, and as if they never thought at all of themselves" (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 775).

My first thought was that Henrietta could only say and believe this because she'd never met any of the upper class idiots that seem to surround Cecilia. Does the above description fit the Harrels? Mr. Meadows? Lord Robert? etc etc etc. (NBH and those are the only names I can grab out of the air).

I also thought she must be living with or near the Branghtons or similar types as her only comparison to Cecilia and Mortimer.

When Harriet says something similar about Mr. Knightly, she is coming from much better experience with the other upper class people in Highbury.

I also enjoyed the scene between Mrs. Belfield and Mr. Delvile. Yea for Mrs. Belfield! You had to know they would find her in Belfield's room and suspect the worst. I personally thought it would be good for Mortimer to know she was there, even if it was all innocent, just so he'd think she wasn't home pining for him.

Sallie Knowles

Subject: Cecilia, Vol. V, Bk. IX, Ch. VII, A Calm

Interesting that the previous chapter, titled "A Disturbance" was seventeen pages long in my edition, the Oxford University Press one, and today's chapter, "A Calm" is only eight. Fairly reflective of the relative distribution of calm versus disturbance in this book! Calms seem to have been few and far between.

Cecilia spent one month with the quiet and respectable Bayleys before she finally was able to move to her home. Her reputation for generosity had preceded her, and the poor of the neighborhood probably felt that the good times, they are acomin'.

Cecilia hoped to drive her painful memories from her by busying herself with good works, and remember Mortimer's quotation of his mother's: " ' evils inevitable are always best supported, because known to be past amendment, and felt to give defiance to struggling.' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 790) First she returned Fidel to the castle, without any explanation. Cecilia felt none would be necessary. Next she sent a summons to Mr. Albany, who "...instantly hastened to her, and joyfully accepted the office of becoming at once her Almoner and her Monitor." (p. 790) He pursued his favorite occupation of seeking out deserving "objects of distress" and then would take Cecilia to visit them, knowing that seeing the suffering ones, she would instantly take action to relieve that suffering. Cecilia had the pew-opener brought to the neighborhood, and "ordered [the children] to be coarsely brought up, having no intention to provide for them but by helping them to common employments." (p. 791) No future Mr. Belfields here!

Cecilia sent an invitation to Mrs. Harrel to come live with her, as she had promised, not anticipating any pleasure from this companion, but after all, a promise is a promise! Priscilla came accompanied by her brother, Mr. Arnott, but he returned home dejected when it became apparent that no invitation was to be given to him. Cecilia, having no intention of "making him the happiest man in the world", felt it would be kinder to Mr. Arnott, and to her own reputation (such as remained), to dash his hopes at once. Cecilia was correct in guessing that the company of Mrs. Harrel would give her no pleasure. No parties, no entertainments, no shopping. Life was just as bleak as it had been with her brother, and Priscilla spared no effort in letting her disappointment be known to one and all.

Cecilia's manner of living was not influenced by her neighbors, a fact which predictably did not endear her to some of them. She was careful not to be too ostentatious in her frugality, and "... her good humor and desire of obliging kept them always her friends." Interesting feat, especially since in order to maintain her course of quiet study, she had to "... drive from her half her acquaintance" (792) Her intention of " ... solacing herself with the society of the wise, good, and intelligent..." also proved to be problematic, because " ... few answered this description, and those few were with difficulty obtainable." (p. 793)

The more time Cecilia spent with Mrs. Harrel, the more she longed for Henrietta. She began to see that the difficulties she saw with obtaining the company of this friend, were largely illusory. By soliciting the company of her daughter, Mrs. Belfield might finally see that Cecilia's interest was in the daughter, not the son, and " ... Mr. Delvile, should he make further enquiries, might hear that her real connection was with the sister, since she received her in the country, where the brother made no pretence to follow her." (p. 793) Cecilia also felt that it would be too bad to give up the pleasure of the company of her friend, for the sake of such a man as Mr. Delvile.

Cecilia sent the invitation enclosed in a letter to Mrs. Belfield.

Not surprisingly, Henrietta greeted the proposed removal with enthusiasm. Cecilia sent her maid to fetch her, with funds to pay for the journey. Henrietta was ecstatic when she again met her friend, and Cecilia did all she could to make her happy, with the exception of conversing about Mortimer, whom she wished " ... to drive the remembrance of ... from herself."(p. 794)

It was not surprising that Henrietta entered upon a period of felicity she had never known before.

Mr. Monckton ".. observed the encreasing influence of Mr. Albany with the most serious concern." (p. 794) After allowing several weeks to elapse in the hope that the works of charity were a passing phase, he decided he must warn Cecilia.

"He spoke to her with warmth, he represented her conduct as highly dangerous in its consequence; he said she would but court impostors from every corner of the kingdom, called Albany a lunatic, whom she should rather avoid than obey; and insinuated that if a report was spread of her proceedings, a charity so prodigal, would excite such alarm, than no man would think even her large and splendid fortune, would ensure him from ruin in seeking her alliance." (pp. 794 - 795)

Monckton found that his influence over Cecilia had waned. She did tell him that she investigated thoroughly all objects of possible benevolence before she parted with her money, and that, since her manner of living was so frugal, to merely save the money she was not spending would be " ... something still worse than extravagance." (p. 795) The second portion of his warning had no effect, as Cecilia was not interested in seeking out another husband from the one she had chosen.

Monckton left dissatisfied, and dismayed that his opinion had come to have so little weight. Cecilia also took from the meeting a feeling that Mr. Monckton " ... was too worldly and suspicious."

Cecilia continued on her course of benevolence, and was imposed upon rarely because " ... the steadiness with which she repulsed those whom she detected in deceit, was a check upon tricks and fraud, though it could not wholly put a stop to them." (p. 796) Money, since it did not obtain for her what she most wanted, the husband she loved, had little charm for her. The first winter of her residence in her home was quietly passed seeking out the needy and performing acts of charity. Must have been very dull for Priscilla!

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney: CeciliaV:9:7: Rasselas & Austen Parallels

Again I was reminded of Johnsonian in Cecila's "choice of a life" and in her inability to avoid contraction and dissatisfaction. I thought Jill's summary of the quotations captured the Johnsonian and Rasselas like feel of this chapter very well:

"Cecilia's manner of living was not influenced by her neighbors, a fact which predictably did not endear her to some of them. She was careful not to be too ostentatious in her frugality, and "... her good humor and desire of obliging kept them always her friends." Interesting feat, especially since in order to maintain her course of quiet study, she had to "... drive from her half her acquaintance" (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and P Sabor, p 792) Her intention of " ... solacing herself with the society of the wise, good, and intelligent..." also proved to be problematic, because " ... few answered this description, and those few were with difficulty obtainable." (p. 793).

There is a parallel with Anne Elliot who wants only the best company (says Mr Elliot) when Burney remarks she solaced "herself with the society of the wise, good, and intelligent", but alas, "So few fit this description, and those few were with difficulty attainable" (p. 793). Yet while we are asked to laugh at her just a bit -- as we laugh at Marianne at the close of S&S still planning an arduous scheme of study and life, I think we are also to be on the side of privacy, quiet, and solitude as the only place where tranquillity of heart and peace and individual contentment can be found.

There is also very clearly a parallel with Elinor Dashwood. As Elinor determines to keep busy after she has been so shocked by Lucy's revelation that Lucy has been engaged to Edward for four years, so Cecilia determined before her. The difference is, ironically, Austen tells her there was still amply time for Elinor's mind to return to Edward.

Jill's right; this is a short chapter. I have noticed throughout this book that the chapters vary enormously in size. But so do the chapters of P&P. Of course in Victorian times you had to fit an installment into so many columns. Perhaps my dissatisfaction with the handling of time comes from its brevity. I am asked to believe months and then a year went by merely on the narrator's say-so. I am not made to experience it analogously.

Ellen Moody

To: AUSTEN-L@lists.mcgill.ca
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. V, Bk. IX, Ch. VIII, An Alarm

October 6, 1998

One fine spring morning Cecilia received a surprise visitor, none other that Mortimer. The man who she had taken such pains to drum from her mind, was not a welcome sight, since she could not believe that his parents had changed their minds about accepting her as a daughter-in-law. Mortimer asked for an audience, which Cecilia refused. He was hurt, but not defeated. He left and sent a note to Henrietta, who looked at it as all her dreams finally coming to fruition. With pity Cecilia saw Henrietta's transports of joy.

" ' My dear, dear Miss Beverley! ... I have such a thing to tell you! -- you would never guess it, -- I don't know how to tell you! -- you would never guess it, -- I don't know how to believe it myself, -- but Mr. Delvile has written to me! -- he has indeed! that note was from him. -- I have been locking it up, for fear of accidents, but I'll run and fetch it, that you may see it yourself.' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, pp. 778 - 799)

Mortimer had asked for an appointment with Henrietta. With dismay Cecilia saw that he had requested the audience with her friend, because she had refused to see him. With pity she saw Henrietta return; " .. the glow, the hope, the flutter were all over; she looked pale and wan, but attempting, as she entered the room, to call up a smile, she failed, and burst into tears." (p. 800) Cecilia compassionately tried to console her, until Henrietta let it slip that Mortimer was waiting for her [Cecilia] below with a letter from his mother. Not surprisingly, Cecilia left after giving her friend a very quick consolatory kiss. Hopes had sprung to which she had long been a stranger.

Mortimer had suffered from a loss of confidence, due to the reception he had received from his would-be bride. Cecilia reassured him, making it clear that, since he was there with the approbation of his mother, she was quite ready to "receive her commands". Mortimer remonstrated with her; " ' ... could you imagine me so unsteady, so dishonourable, as to obtrude myself into your presence while that promise was still in force?' " (p. 802) She made a cheerful reply, which gave him courage.

Mortimer asked if the rumor he had heard of Mr. Belfield was unfounded, and Cecilia assured him it was. He spent a great deal of time shilly shallying about the condition that would be attached to their marriage, Cecilia reassuring that she could not imagine one that would be insuperable. Imagine her chagrin when she found that the condition was that she relinquish the inheritance from her uncle, bringing to the marriage only the 10,000 pounds she had inherited from her parents! And Mortimer's, upon finding that his father knew well that the 10,000 pounds was gone, when he stipulated that condition. Cecilia explained the circumstances of her taking up loans with the moneylenders when Briggs refused to allow her to blow her money in that way. Mortimer was understandably outraged, and stated that " ' ... my father's concurrence with a proposal he knew you had not the power to grant, was in fact a mere permission to insult you ... to consent to a plan which could not be accepted! -- to make me a tool to offer indignity to Miss Beverley! -- he had released me from his power by so erroneous an exertion of it, and my own honour has a claim to which his commands must give place.' "(p. 809)

He explained the circumstances by which he had received his parents' permission. At first intending to go abroad immediately, the poor health of his mother made him reluctant to leave her. When the winter passed without an improvement, he decided to try the south of France for her recovery. While waiting for clement weather to come, he thought of the way to achieve his desire for Cecilia as a wife. He suggested to his mother the possibility of Cecilia's taking his name in marriage, giving up the riches of her uncle's inheritance for the riches of a companionate marriage. His mother, remembering her declaration that she would gladly accept a portionless Cecilia, gave her blessing. When he proposed his idea to his father, he was less receptive, to say the least. Mr. Delvile accused Cecilia of a lavish and profligate lifestyle that forced her to resort to borrowing money to support it, and also attacked her character on the basis of her many visits to the Belfield household, bringing up the time he himself had surprised her and Belfield alone (as it seemed) in his room. Mortimer had angrily denied the possibility of a dalliance with Belfield, and demanded the source of the falsehood about Cecilia borrowing money. This his father refused to give, and offered Mortimer the possibility to give him the lie by proposing marriage with the aforementioned conditions.

Finally Cecilia saw the great error of her ways. " She lamented, ... her unfortunate connexion with Mr. Harrel, whose unworthy impositions upon her kindness of temper and generosity, now proved to her an evil far more serious and extensive, than in the midst of her repugnance to them she had ever apprehended." (p. 810) She made it clear to Mortimer that she would have been happy to comply with the conditions if she had not made over her parental legacy to Harrel, and Mortimer again asked Cecilia to marry him, disregarding his father's disapprobation, and spending some years abroad to recoup the parental fortune by economizing.

Nowadays, that would not likely recoup anyone's fortune!

Cecilia promised that she would happily marry Mortimer if, his mother understanding the circumstances of her finances, agreed. With considerable elevation of spirits he left to set events into motion.

Cecilia again pondered on the possible treachery of Mr. Monckton. It would not take long for the whole story to come out.

Jill Spriggs

Burney: Cecilia:V:9:8, An Alarm

Ah ha. At long last money troubles. If Cecilia marries Delvile, secretly or openly, and gives up her name, she loses the money from the uncle. The money from her parents has already gone to support Harrel and then to pay off Monckton.

She's about to go broke. Can anyone doubt that somehow or other young Delvile will desert (either deliberately or unknowingly), Cecilia's money will be taken from her, and she will be left wandering the streets. She will regarded as an outcast for her clandestine marriage which could be repudidated. Of course Delvile will not do this; rather it will be a threat, a menace. I can see her and the faithful Fidel in some spunging house or on a bulk, the naive Henrietta having been pulled away by her mother. Belfield will come to keep her company. I don't believe Burney capable of the outlook which, after the crises of the play and before Cordelia is murdered, made Lear and Cordelia know the deepest happiness for the few moments they are together and apart from the world. Instead Cecilia will go mad -- or Belfield.

Andrea has hinted there is a betrayal by Mrs Delvile too. A knife in the back by the one woman she trusted, her friend-mother. Very good. I like it.

Ellen Moody

Subject: Cecilia, Vol. V, Bk. IX, Ch. IX, A Suspense From Jill Spriggs
To Austen-l
October 7, 1998

Henrietta's reaction to finding she had been so much in error about Delvile's intention, gave me a smile. To Cecilia's praise of her frankness:

" ' ... there are some things that people should not be frank in; however, I am only come now to beg you will tell me, madam, when it is to be: -- and don't thing I ask out of nothing but curiosity, for I have a very great reason for it indeed. ... I will tell you, madam, what my reason is; I shall go away to my own home, -- and so I would if it were ten times a worse home than it is! -- just exactly the day before. Because afterwards I shall never like to look that gentleman in the face, -- never, never! -- for married ladies I know are not to be trusted!' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 811)

She was afraid Cecilia would blab about her hopeless love to her new husband; Cecilia of course reassured her. Henrietta then wished to know why Mortimer had never before asked her to marry her. Cecilia was still reluctant to share the story of her frequently impeded love, but did tell her that nothing could be less certain than the outcome of the whole romance. Henrietta was shocked and explained her presumption in longing for Mortimer:

" ' ... this has been the thing that made me behave so wrong; for I took it into my head I might tell you every thing, because I concluded it could be nothing to you; for if great people loved one another, I always supposed they married directly; poor people, indeed, must stay until they are able to settle; but what in the whole world, thought I, if they like one another, should hinder such a rich lady as Miss Beverley from marrying such a rich gentleman at once?' " (p. 812)

At last Cecilia gave in and told Henrietta the whole of her story. Henrietta was a sympathetic audience, and tried her best to overcome her fatal infatuation. Like Harriet, she had been more attached than her friend realized, and the wounds would heal slowly.

Mr. Monckton was understandably appalled when he heard of Mortimer's visit, and hastened to Cecilia to find out the result. Once again she proved to be a quivering mass of indecision (as one friend of mine likes to put it) and gave in. Monckton predictably was not thrilled with the news.

" ... his rage at such repeated trials was almost more than he could curb. He spared neither the Delviles for their insolence of mutability in rejecting or seeking her at their pleasure, nor herself for her easiness of submission in being thus the dupe of their caprices. The subject was difficult for Cecilia to dilate upon; ... she heard almost in silence what with pain she bore to hear at all.

He now saw, with inexpressible disturbance, that whatever was his power to make her uneasy, he had none to make her retract, and that the conditional promise she had given Delvile to be wholly governed by his mother, she was firm in regarding to be as sacred as one made at the altar." (p. 813)

Seeing that his rage could have no effect, he with an effort wished her well, and abruptly left her. She was not sorry to see him go, and even more happy that he did not return. Delvile was absent for a week, and then a letter came.

He told Cecilia about his explanation to his parents, of the reasons for her borrowing money, and how he told his mother that whether they would be married, would be purely up to her. Mortimer informed both parents that no matter their decision, he regarded himself as betrothed to Cecilia, and would live the rest of his life single, if he could not have the bride he wished. His father's sentiments were unchanged, but Mrs. Delvile was " ' ... much affected ... Words of the sweetest praise broke repeatedly from her; no other woman, she said, existed; no other such instance could be found of fidelity so exalted! her son must have no heart but for low and mercenary selfishness, if, after a proof of regard so unexampled, he could live without her!' " (p. 815)

Mr. Delvile was outraged by the effusions of his wife: " '... passion not merely banished his justice, but clouded his reason, and I soon left the room, that at least I might not hear the aspersions he forbid me to answer.' " (p. 815)

Mrs. Delvile did her best to defend Cecilia, but there was a break between the couple who in this case, could not agree. Mortimer was appalled; he did his best to reconcile his parents, but unsuccessfully. His mother prepared to go abroad, and planned to consult with some physicians Dr. Lyster recommended, in London, on her way. Mortimer and his mother were on their way to London, as he wrote. He determined to make one last effort, before he accompanied his mother abroad. He had also been unsuccessful in finding who had so blackened Cecilia's name. Cecilia, knowing his temper, hesitated to tell him of her suspicions about Mr. Monckton.

Cecilia shared the contents of her letter with Harriet, who took comfort from knowing that Cecilia was not yet marrying the man she loved either. I also thought Jane Austen's treatment of the parallel situation was more realistic. But maybe the knowledge that Cecilia was unhappy in her love, unlike Emma, provided Henrietta a consolation that Harriet did not have.

Jill Spriggs

Subject: Cecilia's money
From Nancy Mayer

I still say that one of those trustees could have arranged the return of Cecilia's money. Much doubt is thrown oin to the intelligence of the uncle who made the will . Did he take a list of men and stick a pin in at random to choose her trustees? Surely if he knew the men he knew their faults. neither Mortimer nor Cecilia has ever had to economize before. though Cecilia has been voluntarily living frugally. She will adapt better to a Spartan lifestyle than will Mortimer. Will he come to resent her? Does his mother have any money? Why does Mrs. Devile not ask Cecilia to accompany her to the South of France-- before ther is a second mention of a wedding? The trouble with this book is that I am not pulling for the heroine to be united with the hero. I think she will do better to remain a spinster.

Burney can not believe that Mortimer is an adequate hero. I think that one of the themes of the book is that women are dependant on men but that they cannot Depend on them to be there and to be supportive. Did she slide some of her disenchantment with her father, Mr. Crisp ( that is an odd relationship) into her discriptions of the trustees and even the hero?

Where is the man on the white horse?

Nancy Mayer

Re: Burney, Cecilia: IX:9:9: Suspense

We are coming to the wedding and it's all very strange. No kisses, no hugs, no sense of longing for one's beloved. All Cecilia's anxiety goes into worrying about Mrs Delvile and Henrietta's hurt feelings (at one point Jill typed Harriet for Henrietta, a natural "error"). I agree with Nancy that Burney does not at all make us feel Cecilia longs to marry Delvile.

Then there's the money. It is vague. I think to myself who will pay for this house if Cecilia gives up the inheritance from her uncle? To use one of Cecilia's favorite words, will Monckton be her alimoner? When I think of the suspense of the chapter, I apply it to the financial and social consequences of this marriage which look bleak.

Ellen Moody

From Jill:

Ellen wrote:

I was for the first time struck by their never having been a kiss between Delvile and Cecilia. At no point on the ride to the marriage and even the marriage itself is any sense of physical intimacy suggested. Then when they are married, she runs away. I think Burney makes this clear lest we think her virgin heroine is no longer a virgin. It works to excuse the secresy; presumably Cecilia will not be bedded until her marriage is publicly acknowledged.

This also struck me. I do think there is an unacknowledged, very elemental physical attraction between these two, best shown back in Volume III, Book VI, Chapter V, "A Storm". When Cecilia and Mortimer were fleeing the storm, and Cecilia, fatigued, allowed herself to relent from her relentless circumspection long enough to lean upon his arm, Mortimer had a very strong reaction: " ... Delvile, with an emotion he seemed to find wholly irrepressible, passionately exclaimed ' sweet lovely burthen! O why not thus for ever!' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 473)

There some rather crude descriptions of what Cecilia could be called. I frankly found her self control to be tiresome. At least, when she let loose, she really let loose. She went bonkers when finally all her circuits overloaded, as we shall see in the final installment. But note that she never did let it all hang out sexually. I also was struck with how she hustled off immediately after her wedding, and I do not think the reason was, as she claimed, to minimize the chance of discovery. Poor Mortimer; when I think of the frustration he must have felt when he suggested that Cecilia go to his mother and wait while he notified his father of their wedding, and she insisted on going straight home. At least that way they could have had some "time alone" before she returned to Bury (her sexuality buried?). And the fact that he did not dispute her decision made me think that this guy was really pussy whipped, between his bride-to-be and his mother. Should make an exemplary husband once he gets well into the saddle!

Jill Spriggs

Re: Why Is There No Sex in Cecilia?

This is written in response to Jill's comment which concluded:

"I also was struck with how [Cecilia] hustled off immediately after her wedding, and I do not think the reason was, as she claimed, to minimize the chance of discovery. Poor Mortimer; when I think of the frustration he must have felt when he suggested that Cecilia go to his mother and wait while he notified his father of their wedding, and she insisted on going straight home. At least that way they could have had some "time alone" before she returned to Bury (her sexuality buried?). And the fact that he did not dispute her decision made me think that this guy was really pussy whipped, between his bride-to-be and his mother. Should make an exemplary husband once he gets well into the saddle!"

There is an article called "Why there is no sex in Jane Austen" which I have always thought all wrong because there is sex in Jane Austen and a lot of it. It may be expressed indirectly and through hints insofar as some of the heroines are concerned; when it is direct and uncompromising and extramarital it is kept to the margins of the story -- off-stage as it were. But all the effects of what goes on upstairs are felt downstairs and strongly.

Why is there no sex in Cecilia? I saw no sense of it worth the word between the Harrels; Henrietta worships Delvile from afar. Lady Honoria is a frivolous idle b-t-h; how Mrs Delvile ever managed young Delvile out of old Delvile we are not told. While I agree with Andrea that the relationship between the women in the story (Cissy and Prissy :), Cecilia and la mère Delvile, Cissy and Henny) is important in the plot-line, equally important are the romances. Monckton seems to salivate darkly, but he never gets close to Cecilia; she seems to have no idea he longs for her. That he goes to bed with his wife seems improbable.

It is odd because there are strong sexual currents in Evelina even if Orville is a Sir Charles Grandison -- between our heroine and hero, between Sir Clement and our heroine, between the Brangtons and their young men, in Ranelagh, in Vauxhall. I know they are graphic in the diary. I hope they return in Camilla.

Poor Mortimer indeed.


From: Oldbuks@aol.com
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998
To: AUSTEN-L@lists.mcgill.ca
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. V, Bk. IX, Ch. X, A Relation

A week after Cecilia had received the previous unsatisfactory letter, she was visited by Mortimer himself, with the tidings that he had come directly from his mother, at her request, en route to France. His mother had made one last effort at reconciliation with his father, knowing that the doctors had told her that "... a calmer mind was more essential to her than purer air." (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 818) She begged that he reveal the name of Cecilia's accuser, that she could have an opportunity of clearing her name, averred that "... her character and her fame [were] as unsullied as his own;" and urged that their son would be " ... utterly dishonourable in thinking of any other connexion."(p. 818) Mr. Delvile's hostility was implacable, and he refused to allow Cecilia the chance to clear her name by revealing the identity of her accuser. He even expressed surprise that his wife and son could persist in their desire for this imprudent match, after he had expressed his disapprobation.

Cecilia was not surprised at the contents of the letter, and only bemoaned the fact that they had all subjected themselves to such indignities which were sure to come. His mother, giving up all hope of reason from her husband, had given her separate consent to their marriage, and urged that they go ahead in spite of his father's disapprobation. Fearing Cecilia's disbelief, he brought with him a letter from his mother to confirm her sanction of his request. She gave it, with a request that Cecilia come to London to see her again, before she left to go abroad. At first Cecilia did not realize that Mortimer was again proposing a secret marriage. He pointed out that his father would only greet disputation with outrage, and once they were married, it would be in his father's own interest to prove Cecilia guiltless of the charges made against her. He promised to have a bond drawn up similar to the one for the wedding which was aborted, in which, when he came into his estate, he would settle upon Cecilia the same amount of money his mother had received when she was married. They would no longer keep up three lavish homes, but reside abroad and lease the estate until " ' ... we shall be as rich and as easy as we shall desire.' " (p. 823) He also pointed out that some wealthy relations, after hearing of his mother's blessing upon their marriage, would also kick in with some of the ready.

Mortimer proposed that he leave for London immediately, Cecilia following closely. They would see his mother, and marry the next morning. Mortimer would go to his father to report the news, and then would rejoin his mother to accompany her to the Continent. Cecilia hesitated at the precipitancy of the plan; Mortimer emotionally urged her to comply. She did.

Why oh why did Mortimer not take Cecilia with him when he proposed to travel with his mother abroad? He could have left Cecilia with her while he went to see his father. The reason he gave for not doing this is, to me, feeble: " ' I ask you not to involve your own affairs in confusion by accompanying me abroad; sweet to me as would be the indulgence, I would not make a run-away of you in the opinion of the world.' " (p. 824)

Methinks the world would think it all very romantic. He would rue this unwise decision.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Cecilia:V:9:10: A Marriage which is not consummated

Dear Jill and all,

I really think the reason Delvile doesn't take Cecilia with him is Burney would be in the position of having to present them as sleeping together on the way there. I can't accept Andrea's explanation as once Cecilia marries Delvile, she immediately begins to talk of obeying him, being his, and others begin to hint they don't believe she's a virgin anymore. They assume sexual consummation. Who wouldn't? That's why Henrietta cries so in the next chapter. It is all over for her.

In Cecilia Burney cannot get herself to present a heroine who is having sex. Since I assume many of us have now read into the last five chapters, it seems to me it would make more psychological sense for Cecilia to go mad if she had been sexually intimate and lost her virginity too. The taboo would make her enthralled to Delvile (see Freud -- "The Taboo of Virginity"). In this connection, at the close of MP we are told Fanny and Edmund will soon have to enlarge their cottage . . .

Ellen Moody

Maybe along with the London residence and Delvile castle, he is counting on Cecilia's home. He too may have forgotten Cecilia will lose it upon marriage.


To: AUSTEN-L@lists.mcgill.ca
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. V, Bk. IX, Ch. XI, An Enterprise

October 9, 1998

It finally at long happened. Mortimer and Cecilia were married. But there was no happily ever after for these two, at least not yet.

The impeccably honest Cecilia got around explaining her absence for the next two days by telling her guests that she had to go to London "upon an affair of importance". (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 825) They could guess her actions; they would find out soon enough.

Surmising that Henrietta would not find this outing to be one of pleasure, Cecilia left her behind, taking only a maid in the chaise and a servant on horseback for companions. On her trip she had some unhappy thoughts:

"Disinterested as she was, she considered her situation as peculiarly perverse, that from the time of her coming to a fortune which most others regarded as enviable, she had been a stranger to peace, a fruitless seeker of happiness, a dupe to the fraudulent, and a prey to the needy! the little comfort she had received, had been merely from dispensing it, and now only had she any chance of being happy herself, when upon the point of relinquishing what all others built their happiness upon obtaining!" (p. 826)

Cecilia's thoughts left her past, and turned to her present, which was scarcely more promising.

" These reflections only gave way to others still more disagreeable; she was now a second time engaged in a transaction she could not approve, and suffering the whole peace of her future life to hang upon an action dark, private, and imprudent: an action by which the father of her intended husband would be disobeyed, and which already, in a similar instance, had brought her to affliction and disgrace. These melancholy thoughts haunted her during the whole journey, and though the assurance of Mrs. Delvile's approbation was some relief to her uneasiness, she involuntarily prepared herself for meeting new mortifications, and was tormented with an apprehension that this second attempt made her merit them." (p. 826)

It is almost as though the carriage ride was like the death of her single state, and her life was flashing before her. Or perhaps the travails of labor, to be followed by her rebirth as a married woman. In any case, the trip was far from pleasant.

Cecilia repaired to the lodgings Mortimer had taken, then took a chair to visit Mrs. Delvile. No longer did she care about being seen by the servants of the house; their master would know of her coming soon enough. While word of her arrival was being taken to Mrs. Delvile, Mortimer came and shared the news that his mother was "considerably worse".

Her greeting of Cecilia must have been gratifying to this most nervous bride:

" Delvile led the way [to his mother], saying, ' Here, madam, comes one whose sight will bring peace and pleasure to you!'

' This, indeed,' cried Mrs. Delvile, half rising and embracing her, ' is the form in which they are most welcome to me! virtuous, noble Cecilia! what honour you do my son! with what joy, should I ever recover, shall I assist him in paying the gratitude he owes you!' " (p. 827)

Mrs. Delvile reassured Cecilia until even she was comforted from her misgivings, and then Mortimer urged his mother " ...not to talk or exert herself," and Cecilia to compose herself.

Mrs. Delvile rested while Mortimer told Cecilia of his plans for the morrow. He would leave her at the church and immediately ride to Delvile Castle to tell his father of the marriage. He urged her to go to his mother and stay until he returned, so he could bid her good bye without another trip into Suffolk. Cecilia argued that the less time she spent in London, the fewer would guess what they had been up to, and begged that he not come to Suffolk again, but to hasten his mother abroad for her health's sake. Mortimer's attorney would again give her away, and Mrs. Delvile's woman attendant would act the part of friend to Cecilia, to her sadness. Mortimer would himself call for her in a chair, to avoid all the last minute misgivings she had allowed herself the previous time.

They planned to part early, to allow Mrs. Delvile her rest. She called out after Cecilia her blessing, and embraced her, telling her of what pleasure the sight of her had given her.

The next morning Cecilia sent both her servants out on errands, asking them to return by 9 AM, when she planned to return to the country. When Mortimer had seen them leave, he entered and told Cecilia that all was at the ready in the church. She " ... gave him her hand in silence, and he led her to the chair." (p. 831)

After all their false starts, Cecilia was sure something else would happen to interfere with their marriage, but nothing did. They were married without incident, and Mortimer, instead of leaving her at the church door, accompanied Cecilia in the chair, on foot. He saw her to her lodgings, reanimated (from her stunned silence), and left before the servants would return.

They did it. They were actually married.

And now to the final book...

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney, Cecilia,V:9:11: The Wedding Finally Committed

Jill is right; the carriage ride takes a long time, and we have an Austen-like attempt to allow the heroine to look back on her adventures and gather their meaning. Maybe there is something feminine or woman-like in this insistence on looking backward and inward; it is not a scene which typically occurs in picaresque novels, and yet here we are in a carriage rushing on to the next station in Cecilia's endless journeying. I liked Jill's metaphor; there is the sense of some difficulty labored over and at long last relief:

"It is almost as though the carriage ride was like the death of her single state, and her life was flashing before her. Or perhaps the travails of labor, to be followed by her rebirth as a married woman. In any case, the trip was far from pleasant."

I use the word commit because that's how the act feels. Almost like some crime. The crossing of that liminal threshold is got over even if what's on the other side (sex and children and adulthood for the woman of the period) is run away from immediately.

I have gone on to next week's chapters and would like to say in hind sight (having read on), there is something very close to Frances Sheridan's Memoirs of Sidney Biddulph and Henry Mackenzie's Julia da Roubigne in the atmosphere of dread and intensity in these chapters. In that sense Henrietta as Harriet doesn't quite fit; the paradigm is too light-hearted and witty. I have also been thinking that this book suggests how simplistic is Marilyn Butler's formulation of a Jacobin versus anti-Jacobin novel. Burney was conservative, and yet her novels participate in the moods and perceptions about life of the most radical novels.

After the failure of the marriage to come off, the first time round I must say I was relieved. Andrea was right about the atmosphere of the moment being anything but celebratory or final. It's just a moment and then another damn thing will happen.

Ellen Moody

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