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out some allusion to the hoarding of money or Mr. Hobson, without betraying the self-in dulgence and self-importance of a purse-proud upstart; or Mr. Simkins, without uttering some sneaking remark for the purpose of currying favour with his customers; or Mr. Meadows, without expressing apathy and weariness of life; or Mr. Albany, without declaiming about

hould be surprised to find in any parsonage in the kingdom, Mr. Edward Ferrars, Mr. Henry Tilney, Mr. Edmund Bertram, and Mr. Elton. They are all specimens of the upper part of the middle class. They have all been liberally educated. They all lie under the restraints of the same sacred profession. They are all young. They are all in love. Not one of them has any hobby-horse, to use the phrase of the vices of the rich and the misery of the Sterne. Not one has a ruling passion, such as poor; or Mrs. Belfield, without some inde we read of in Pope. Who would not have ex- | licate eulogy on her son; or Lady Margaret, pected them to be insipid likenesses of each without indicating jealousy of her husband other? No such thing. Harpagon is not more Morrice is all skipping, officious impertinence, unlike to Jourdain, Joseph Surface is not more Mr. Gosport all sarcasm, Lady Honoria all unlike to Sir Lucius O'Trigger, than every one lively prattle, Miss Larolles all silly prattle. of Miss Austen's young divines to all his re- If ever Madame D'Arblay aimed at more, as in verend brethren. And almost all this is done the character of Monckton, we do not think by touches so delicate, that they elude analysis, that she succeeded well. that they defy the powers of description, and that we know them to exist only by the general effect to which they have contributed.

A line must be drawn, we conceive, between artists of this class, and those poets and novelists whose skill lies in the exhibiting of what Ben Jonson called humours. The words of Ben are so much to the purpose, that we will quote them:

"When some one peculiar quality

Doth so possess a man, that it doth draw
All his effects, his spirits, and his powers,
In their confluxions all to run one way,
This may be truly said to be a humour."

There are undoubtedly persons, in whom humours such as Ben describes have attained a complete ascendency. The avarice of Elwes, the insane desire of Sir Egerton Brydges for a barony to which he had no more right than to the crown of Spain, the malevolence which long meditation on imaginary wrongs generated in the gloomy mind of Bellingham, are instances. The feeling which animated Clarkson and other virtuous men against the slavetrade and slavery, is an instance of a more honourable kind.

Seeing that such humours exist, we cannot deny that they are proper subjects for the imitations of art. But we conceive that the imitation of such humours, however skilful and amusing, is not an achievement of the highest order; and, as such humours are rare in real life, they ought, we conceive, to be sparingly introduced into works which profess to be pictures of real life. Nevertheless, a writer may show so much genius in the exhibition of these humours, as to be fairly entitled to a distinguished and permanent rank among classics. The chief seats of all, however, the places on the dais and under the canopy, are reserved for the few who have excelled in the difficult art of portraying characters in which no single feature is extravagantly overcharged.

If we have expounded the law soundly, we can have no difficulty in applying it to the particular case before us. Madame D'Arblay has left us scarcely any thing but humours. Almost every one of her men and women has some one propensity developed to a morbid degree. In Cecilia, for example, Mr. Delvile never opens his lips without some allusion to his own birth and station; or Mr. Briggs, with

We are, therefore, forced to refuse Madame D'Arblay a place in the highest rank of art; but we cannot deny that, in the rank to which she belonged, she had few equals, and scarcely any superior. The variety of humours which is to be found in her novels is immense; and though the talk of each person separately is monotonous, the general effect is not monotony, but a very lively and agreeable diversity. Her plots are rudely constructed and improbable, if we consider them in themselves. But they are admirably framed for the purpose of ex hibiting striking groups of eccentric characters, each governed by his own peculiar whim, each talking his own peculiar jargon, and each bringing out by opposition the peculiar oddi ties of all the rest. We will give one exam ple out of many which occur to us. All probability is violated in order to bring Mr. Del vile, Mr. Briggs, Mr. Hobson, and Mr. Albany into a room together. But when we have them there, we soon forget probability in the exquisitely ludicrous effect which is produced by the conflict of four old fools, each raging with a monomania of his own, each talking a dialect of his own, and each inflaming all the others anew every time he opens his mouth.

Madame D'Arblay was most successful in comedy, and indeed in comedy which bordered on farce. But we are inclined to infer from some passages, both in Cecilia and Camilla, that she might have attained equal distinction in the pathetic. We have formed this judg ment less from those ambitious scenes of dis tress which lie near the catastrophe of each of those novels than from some exquisite strokes of natural tenderness which take us here and there by surprise. We would mention as ex amples, Mrs. Hill's account of her little boy's death in Cecilia, and the parting of Sir Hugh Tyrold and Camilla, when the honest baronet thinks himself dying.

It is melancholy to think that the whole fame of Madame D'Arblay rests on what she did dur ing the early half of her life, and that every thing which she published during the fortythree years which preceded her death, lowered her reputation. Yet we have no reason to think that at the time when her faculties ought to have been in their maturity, they were smitten with any blight. In the Wanderer, we catch now and then a gleam of her genius. Even in the Memoirs of her Father, there is no trace of

dotage. They are very bad; but they are so, as it seems to us, not from a decay of power, but from a total perversion of power.

The truth is, that Madame D'Arblay's style underwent a gradual and most pernicious change-a change which, in degree at least, we believe to be unexampled in literary history, and of which it may be useful to trace the progress.

particularly well qualified to advise on matters relating to the stage. We therefore think it in the highest degree improbable that his little Fanny, when living in habits of the most affec tionate intercourse with him, would hav brought out an important work without con sulting him; and, when we look into Cecilia we see such traces of his hand in the grave and elevated passages as it is impossible te mistake. Before we conclude this article, we will give two or three examples.

When she wrote her letters to Mr. Crisp, her early journals, and the novel of Evelina, her style was not indeed brilliant or energetic; When next Madame D'Arblay appeared be. but it was easy, clear, and free from all offen- fore the world as a writer, she was in a very dif sive faults. When she wrote Cecilia she aim-ferent situation. She would not content herself ed higher. She had then lived much in a circle of which Johnson was the centre; and she was herself one of his most submissive worshippers. It seems never to have crossed her mind that the style even of his best writings was by no means faultless, and that even had it been faultless, it might not be wise in her to imitate it. Phraseology which is proper in a disquisition on the Unities, or in a preface to a dictionary, may be quite out of place in a tale of fashionable life. Old gentlemen do not criticise the reigning modes, nor do young gentlemen make love with the balanced epithets and sonorous cadences which, on occasions of great dignity, a skilful writer may use with happy effect.

In an evil hour the authoress of Evelina took the Rambler for her model. This would not have been wise even if she could have imitated her pattern as well as Hawkesworth did. But such imitation was beyond her power. She had her own style. It was a tolerably good one; one which might, without any violent change, have been improved into a very good one. She determined to throw it away, and to adopt a style in which she could attain excellence only by achieving an almost miraculous victory over nature and over habit. She could cease to be Fanny Burney; it was not so easy to become Samuel Johnson.

with the simple English in which Evelina had been written. She had no longer the friend who, we are confident, had polished and strengthened the style of Cecilia. She had to write in Johnson's manner without Johnson's aid. The consequence was, that in Camilla every passage which she meant to be fine is detestable; and that the book has been saved from condemnation only by the admirable spirit and force of those scenes in which she was content to be familiar.

But there was to be a still deeper descent. After the publication of Camilla, Madame D'Arblay resided ten years at Paris. During those years there was scarcely any intercourse between France and England. It was with difficulty that a short letter could occasionally be transmitted. All Madame D'Arblay's com panions were French. She must have written, spoken, thought. in French. Ovid expressed his fear that a shorter exile might have affected the purity of his Latin. During a shorter exile, Gibbon unlearned his native English. Madame D'Arblay had carried a bad style to France. She brought back a style which we are really at a loss to describe. It is a sort of broken Johnsonese, a barbarous patois, bearing the same relation to the language of Rasselas which the gibberish of the negroes of Jamaica bears to the English of the House of Lords. Sometimes it reminds us of the finest, that is to say, the vilest parts, of Mr. Galt's novels; sometimes of the perorations of Exeter Hall; sometimes of the leading articles of the Morning Post. But it most resembles the puffs of Mr. Rowland and Dr. Gross. It matters not what ideas are clothed in such a style. The genius of Shakspeare and Bacon united would not save a work so written from general derision.

It is only by means of specimens that we can enable our readers to judge how widely Madame D'Arblay's three styles differ from each other.

In Cecilia the change of manner began to appear. But in Cecilia the imitation of Johnson, though not always in the best taste, is sometimes eminently happy; and the passages which are so verbose as to be positively offensive, are few. There were people who whispered that Johnson had assisted his young friend, and that the novel owed all its finest passages to his hand. This was merely a fabrication of envy. Miss Burney's real excellences were as much beyond the reach of Johnson as his real excellences were beyond her reach. He could no more have written the masquerade scene, or the Vauxhall scene, than she could have written the Life of Cowley or the Review of Soame Jenyns. But we have not the smallest doubt that he revised Cecilia, and that he retouched the style of many passages. We know that he was in the habiting, and more gay in his temper; but his gayety of giving assistance of this kind most free- is that of the foolish overgrown schoolboy, ly. Goldsmith, Hawkesworth, Boswell, Lord whose mirth consists in noise and disturbance Hailes, Mrs. Williams, were among those who He disdains his father for his close attention obtained his help. Nay, he even corrected the to business and love of money, though he seems poetry of Mr. Crabbe, whom, we believe, he had himself to have no talents, spirit, or generosity never seen. When Miss Burney thought of to make him superior to either. His chief de writing a comedy, he promised to give her his light appears to be in tormenting and ridiculing best counsel, though he owned that he was not his sisters, who in return most cordially de

The following passage was written before she became intimate with Johnson. It is from Evelina:

"His son seems weaker in his understand

spise him. Miss Branghton, the eldest daughter, is by no means ugly: but looks proud, illtempered, and conceited. She hates the city, though without knowing why; for it is easy to discover she has lived no where else. Miss Polly Branghton is rather pretty, very foolish, very giddy, and, I believe, very good-natured." This is not a fine style, but simple, perspicuous, and agreeable. We now come to Cecilia, written during Miss Burney's intimacy with Johnson; and we leave it to our readers to judge whether the following passage was not at least corrected by his hand:

"It is rather an imaginary than an actual evil, and, though a deep wound to pride, no offence to morality. Thus have I laid open to you my whole heart, confessed my perplexi ties, acknowledged my vain-glory, and exposed with equal sincerity the sources of my doubts and the motives of my decision. But now, in deed, how to proceed I know The difficulties which are yet to encounter I fear to enumerate, and the petition I have to urge I have scarce courage to mention. My family, inistaking ambition for honour, and rank for dignity, have long planned a splendid connection for me, to which, though my invariable repugnance has stopped any advances, their wishes and their views immovably adhere. But I am too certain they will now listen to no other. I dread, therefore, to make a trial where I despair of success. I know not how to risk a prayer with those who may silence me by a command."

Take now a specimen of Madame D'Arblay's later style. This is the way in which she tells us that her father, on his journey back from the continent, caught the rheumatism:

nevertheless, seems so essential a part of the female character, that I find myself more awkward and less at ease with a woman who wants it than I do with a man."

This is a good style of its kind; and the following passage from Cecilia is also in good style, though not in a faultless one. We say with confidence-Either Sam Johnson or the Devil.

"Even the imperious Mr. Delvile was more supportable here than in London. Secure in his own castle, he looked round him with a pride of power and possession which softened while it swelled him. His superiority was undisputed; his will was without control. He was not, as in the great capital of the king. dom, surrounded by competitors. No rival disturbed his peace; no equality mortified his greatness. All he saw were either vassals of his power, or guests bending to his pleasure. He abated, therefore, considerably the stern gloom of his haughtiness, and soothed his proud mind by the courtesy of condescension."

We will stake our reputation for critical sagacity on this, that no such paragraph as that which we have last quoted, can be found in any of Madame D'Arblay's works except Cecilia. Compare with it the following sample of her later style:

"If beneficence be judged by the happiness which it diffuses, whose claim, by that proof, shall stand higher than that of Mrs. Montagu, from the munificence with which she celebrated her annual festival for those hapless artificers who perform the most abject offices of any authorized calling, in being the active guardians of our blazing hearths? Not to vain-glory, then, but to kindness of heart, should be adjudged the publicity of that superb charity which made its jetty objects, for one bright morning, cease to consider themselves as degraded outcasts from all society."

We add one or two shorter samples. Sheri. dan refused to permit his lovely wife to sing in public, and was warmly praised on this account by Johnson,

66

"He was assaulted, during his precipitated return, by the rudest fierceness of wintry elemental strife; through which, with bad accommodations and innumerable accidents, he became a prey to the merciless pangs of the acutest spasmodic rheumatism, which barely suffered him to reach his home, ere, long and piteously, it confined him, a tortured prisoner, to his bed. Such was the check that almost The last of men," says Madame D'Arblay, instantly curbed, though it could not subdue,"was Doctor Johnson to have abetted squanthe rising pleasure of his hopes of entering dering the delicacy of integrity by nullifying upon a new species of existence-that of an the labours of talents." approved man of letters; for it was on the bed of sickness, exchanging the light wines of France, Italy, and Germany, for the black and loathsome potions of the Apothecaries' Hall, writhed by darting stitches, and burning with fiery tever, that he felt the full force of that sublunary equipoise that seems evermore to hang suspended over the attainment of long sought and uncommon felicity, just as it is ripening to burst forth with enjoyment!"

Here is a second passage from Evelina: "Mrs. Selwyn is very kind and attentive to me. She is extremely clever. Her understanding, indeed, may be called masculine; but unfortunately her manners deserve the same epithet. For, in studying to acquire the knowledge of the other sex, she has lost all the softness of her own. In regard to myself, however, as I have neither courage nor inclination to argue with her, I have never been personally hurt at her want of gentleness-a virtue which,

The club, Johnson's club, did itself no honour by rejecting on political grounds two distin guished men, the one a tory, the other a whig. Madame D'Arblay tells the story thus: "A similar ebullition of political rancour with that which so difficultly had been conquered for Mr. Canning, foamed over the ballot-box to the exclusion of Mr. Rogers."

An offence punishable with imprisonment is, in this language, an offence "which produces incarceration." To be starved to death is, "to sink from inanition into nonentity." Sir Isaac Newton is, "the developer of the skies in their embodied movements;" and Mrs. Thrale, when a party of clever people sat silent, is said to have been "provoked by the dulness of a taciturnity that, in the midst of such renowned interlocutors, produced as narcotic a torpor as could have been caused by a dearth the most barren of all human faculties.” In truth, it is impossible to look in any page

of Madame D'Arblay's later works, without | wild satirical harlequinade; but, if we con finding flowers of rhetoric like these. Nothing sider it as a picture of life and manners, we in the language of those jargonists at whom must pronounce it more absurd than any of the Mr. Gosport laughed, nothing in the language romances which it was designed to ridicule. of Sir Sedley Clarendel, approaches this new euphuism.

Indeed, most of the popular novels which preceded Evelina were such as no lady would have written; and many of them were such as no lady could without confusion : vn that she had read. The very name of novel was held in horror among religious people. In decent families which did not profess extraordinary sanctity, there was a strong feeling against all such works. Sir Anthony Absolute,

It is from no unfriendly feeling to Madame D'Arblay's memory that we have expressed ourselves so strongly on the subject of her style. On the contrary, we conceive that we have really rendered a service to her reputation. That her later works were complete failures is a fact too notorious to be dissembled; and some persons, we believe, have conse-two or three years before Evelina appeared, quently taken up a notion that she was from spoke the sense of the great body of sober the first an overrated writer, and that she had fathers and husbands, when he pronounced the not the powers which were necessary to main- circulating library an evergreen tree of diatain her on the eminence on which good-luck bolical knowledge. This feeling, on the part and fashion had placed her. We believe, on of the grave and reflecting, increased the evil the contrary, that her early popularity was no from which it had sprung. The novelist, havmore than the just reward of distinguished ing little character to lose, and having few merit, and would never have undergone an readers among serious people, took without eclipse, if she had only been content to go on scruple liberties which in our generation seem writing in her mother-tongue. If she failed almost incredible. when she quitted her own province, and attempted to occupy one in which she had neither part nor lot, this reproach is common to her with a crowd of distinguished men. Newton failed when he turned from the courses of the stars, and the ebb and flow of the ocean, to apocalyptic seals and vials. Bentley failed when he turned from Homer and Aristophanes to edit Paradise Lost. Inigo failed when he attempted to rival the Gothic churches of the fourteenth century. Wilkie failed when he took into his head that the Blind Fiddler and the Rent-Day were unworthy of his powers, and challenged competition with Lawrence as a portrait painter. Such failures should be noted for the instruction of posterity; but they detract little from the permanent reputation of those who have really done great things.

Yet one word more. It is not only on account of the intrinsic merit of Madame D'Arblay's early works that she is entitled to honourable mention. Her appearance is an important epoch in our literary history. Evelina was the first tale written by a woman, and purporting to be a picture of life and manners, that lived or deserved to live. The Female Quixote is no exception. That work has undoubtedly great merit when considered as a

VOL. V-75

Miss Burney did for the English novel what Jeremy Collier did for the English drama; and she did it in a better way. She first showed that a tale might be written in which both the fashionable and the vulgar life of London might be exhibited with great force, and with broad comic humour, and which yet should not contain a single line inconsistent with rigid morality, or even with virgin delicacy. She took away the reproach which lay on a most useful and delightful species of composition. She vindicated the right of her sex to an equal share in a fair and noble province of letters. Several accomplished women have followed in her track. At present, the novels which we owe to English ladies form no small part of the literary glory of our country. No class of works is more honourably distinguished by fine observation, by grace, by delicate wit, by pure moral feeling. Several among the suc cessors of Madame D'Arblay have equalled her; two, we think, have surpassed her. But the fact that she has been surpassed gives her an additional claim to our respect and gratitude; for in truth we owe to her, not only Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla, but also Mansfield Park and the Absentee.

3 D*

LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ADDISON.*

[EDINBURGH REVIEW, JULY, 1843.]

|

is, that she has had to describe men and things without having either a correct or a vivid idea of them, and that she has often fallen into er rors of a very serious kind. Some of these errors we may, perhaps, take occasion to point out. But we have not time to point out one half of those which we have observed; and it is but too likely that we may not have ob served all those which exist. The reputation which Miss Aikin has justly earned stands so high, and the charm of Addison's letters is so great, that a second edition of this work may probably be required. If so, we hope that every paragraph will be revised, and that every date and statement of fact about which there can be the smallest doubt will be carefully veri fied.

SOME reviewers are of opinion that a lady ho dares to publish a book renounces by that act the franchises appertaining to her sex, and can claim no exemption from the utmost rigour of critical procedure. From that opinion we dissent. We admit, indeed, that in a country which boasts of many female writers, eminently qualified by their talents and acquirements to influence the public mind, it would be of most pernicious consequence that inaccurate history or unsound philosophy should be suffered to pass uncensured, merely because the offender chanced to be a lady. But we conceive that, on such occasions, a critic would do well to imitate that courteous knight who found himself compelled by duty to keep the lists against Bradamante. He, we are told, defended successfully the cause of which he was the champion; but, before the fight began, exchanged Balisarda for a less deadly sword, of which he carefully blunted the point and edge.t

Nor are the immunities of sex the only immunities which Miss Aikin may rightfully plead. Several of her works, and especially the very pleasing Memoirs of the Reign of James the First, have fully entitled her to the privileges enjoyed by good writers. One of those privileges we hold to be this, that such writers, when, either from the unlucky choice of a subject, or from the indolence too often produced by success, they happen to fail, shall not be subjected to the severe discipline which it is sometimes necessary to inflict upon dunces and impostors; but shall merely be reminded by a gentle touch, like that with which the Laputan flapper roused his dreaming lord, that it is high time to wake.

To Addison himself we are bound by a sentiment as much like affection as any sentiment can be which is inspired by one who has been sleeping a hundred and twenty years in Westminster Abbey. We trust, however, that this feeling will not betray us into that abject idola. try which we have often had occasion to reprehend in others, and which seldom fails to make both the idolater and the idol ridiculous. A man of genius and virtue is but a man. All his powers cannot be equally developed; nor can we expect from him perfect self-knowledge. We need not, therefore, hesitate to admit that Addison has left us some compositions which do not rise above mediocrity, some heroic poems hardly equal to Parnell's, some criticism as superficial as Dr. Blair's, and a tragedy not very much better than Dr. Johnson's. It is praise enough to say of a writer, that, in a high department of literature, in which many eminent writers have distinguished themselves, he has had no equal; and this may with strict justice be said of Addison.

Our readers will probably infer from what we have said that Miss Aikin's book has disappointed us. The truth is, that she is not well acquainted with her subject. No person who As a man he may not have deserved the adois not familiar with the political and literary ration which he received from those, who, be history of England during the reigns of William witched by his fascinating society, and indebted III., of Anne, and of George I., can possibly for all the comforts of life to his generous and write a good life of Addison. Now, we mean delicate friendship, worshipped him nightly in no reproach to Miss Aikin, and many will his favourite temple at Button's. But, after full think that we pay her a compliment, when we inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long say that her studies have taken a different di- been convinced, that he deserved as much love rection. She is better acquainted with Shaks- and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of our peare and Raleigh, than with Congreve and infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may Prior; and is far more at home among the ruffs undoubtedly be detected in his character; but the and peaked beards of Theobald's than among more carefully it is examined, the more will it ap the Steenkirks and flowing periwigs which sur-pear, to use the phrase of the old anatomists, sound rounded Queen Anne's tea-table at Hampton. in the noble parts-free from all taint of perfidy, She seems to have written about the Elizabethan of cowardice, of cruelty, of ingratitude, of envy. age, because she had read much about it; she Men may easily be named in whom some par seems, on the other hand, to have read a little ticular good disposition has been more conabout the age of Addison, because she had de- spicuous than in Addison. But the just hartermined to write about it. The consequence mony of qualities, the exact temper between the stern and the humane virtues, the habitual ob servance of every law, not only of moral rectitude, but of moral grace and dignity, distin

The Life of Joseph Addison. By LUCY AIKIN. 2 vols. vo. London. 1843.

+ Orlando Furioso, xlv. 68.

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