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dotage. They are very bad; but they are so, particularly well qualified to advise on matter as it seems to us, not from a decay of power, relating to the stage. We therefore think it in but from a total perversion of power. the highest degree improbable that his little
The truth is, that Madame D'Arblay's style Fanny, when living in habits of the most affec underwent a gradual and most pernicious tionale intercourse with him, would have change—a change which, in degree at least, brought out an important work without con we believe to be unexampled in literary his- sulting him; and, when we look into Cecilia tory, and of which it may be useful to trace we see such traces of his hand in the grave the progress.
and elevated passages as it is impossible to When she wrote her letters to Mr. Crisp, mistake. Before we conclude this article, we her early journals, and the novel of Evelina, will give two or three examples. 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 cir- with the simple English in which Evelina had cle of which Johnson was the centre; and she been written. She had no longer the friend who, was herself one of his most submissive wor. we are confident, had polished and strengthened shippers. It seems never to have crossed her the style of Cecilia. She had to write in Johnmind that the style even of his best writings son's manner without Johnson's aid. The con. was by no means faultless, and that even had sequence was, that in Camilla every passage it been faultless, it might not be wise in her to which she meant to be fine is detestable; and imitate it. Phraseology which is proper in a that the book has been saved from condemnadisquisition on the Unities, or in a preface to a tion only by the admirable spirit and force of dictionary, may be quite out of place in a tale those scenes in which she was content to be of fashionable life. Old gentlemen do not criti- familiar. cise the reigning modes, nor do young gentle- But there was to be a still deeper descent. men make love with the balanced epithets and After the publication of Camilla, Madame sonorous cadences which, on occasions of D'Arblay resided ten years at Paris. During great dignity, a skilful writer may use with those years there was scarcely any intercourse happy effect.
between France and England. It was with In an evil hour the authoress of Evelina took difficulty that a short letter could occasionally the Rambler for her model. This would not be transmitted. All Madame D'Arblay's com have been wise even if she could have imitated panions were French. She must have written, her pattern as well as Hawkesworth did. But spoken, thought, in French. Ovid expressed such imitation was beyond her power. She his fear that a shorter exile might have affected had her own style. It was a tolerably good the purity of his Latin. During a shorter exile, one; one which might, without any violent Gibbon unlearned his native English. Madame change, have been improved into a very good D'Arblay had carried a bad style to France. one. She determined to throw it away, and to She brought back a style which we are really adopt a style in which she could attain excel at a loss to describe. It is a sort of broken lence only by achieving an almost miraculous Johnsonese, a barbarous patois, bearing the victory over nature and over habit. She could same relation to the language of Rasselas cease to be Fanny Burney; it was not so easy which the gibberish of the negroes of Jamaica to become Samuel Johnson.
bears to the English of the House of Lords. In Cecilia the change of manner began to Sometimes it reminds us of the finest, that is appear. But in Cecilia the imitation of John- to say, the vilest parts, of Mr. Galt's novels; son, though not always in the best taste, is sometimes of the perorations of Exeter Hall; sometimes eminently happy; and the passages sometimes of the leading articles of the Mornwhich are so verbose as to be positively offen- ing Post. But it most resembles the puffs of sive, are few. There were people who whis. Mr. Rowland and Dr. Gross. It matters rot pered that Johnson had assisted his young what ideas are clothed in such a style. The friend, and that the novel awed all its finest genius of Shakspeare and Bacon united would passages to his hand. This was merely a fa- not save a work so written from general deribrication of enyy. Miss Burney's real excel- sion. lences were as much beyond the reach of It is only by means of specimens that we Johnson as his real excellences were beyond can enable our readers to judge how widely her reach. He could no more have written Madame D'Arblay's three styles differ from the masquerade scene, or the Vauxhall scene, each other. than she could have written the Life of Cowley The following passage was written before or the Review of Soame Jenyns. But we have she became intimate with Johnson. It is frons not the smallest doubt that he revised Cecilia, Evelina: and that he retouched the style of many pass. “ His son seems weaker in his understand. ages. 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
spise him. Miss Branghton, the eldest daugh- nevertheless, seems so essential a part of the ter, is by no means ugly: but looks proud, ill. female character, that I find myself more awk. tempered, and conceited. She hates the city, ward and less at ease with a woman who wants though without knowing why; for it is easy to it than I do with a man." discover she has lived no where else. Miss This is a good style of its kind; and the folPolly Branghton is rather pretty, very foolish, lowing passage from Cecilia is also in good very giddy, and, I believe, very good-natured." style, though not in a faultless one. We say
This is not a fine style, but simple, perspicu- with confidence-Either Sam Johnson or the ous, and agreeable. We now come to Cecilia, Devil. written during Miss Burney's intimacy with “ Even the imperious Mr. Delvile was more Johnson; and we leave it to our readers to supportable here than in London. Secure in judge whether the following passage was not his own castle, he looked round him with a at least corrected by his hand:
pride of power and possession which softened “ It is rather an imaginary than an actual while it swelled him. His superiority was unevil, and, though a deep wound to pride, no disputed; his will was without control. He offence to morality. Thus have I laid open to was not, as in the great capital of the kinge you my whole heart, confessed my perplexi dom, surrounded by competitors. No rival ties, acknowledged my vain-glory, and exposed disturbed his peace; no equality mortified his with equal sincerity the sources of my doubts greatness. All he saw were either vassals of and the motives of my decision. But now, in his power, or guests bending to his pleasure. deed, how to proceed I know not. The diffi- He abated, therefore, considerably the stern culties which are yet to encounter I fear to gloom of his haughtiness, and soothed his enumerate, and the petition I have to urge I proud mind by the courtesy of condescension." have scarce courage to mention. My family, We will stake our reputation for critical inistaking ambition for honour, and rank for sagacity on this, that no such paragraph as dignity, have long planned a splendid connec- that which we have last quoted, can be found tion for me, to which, though my invariable in any of Madame D'Arblay's works except repugnanı.e has stopped any advances, their Cecilia. Compare with it the following sample wishes and their views immovably adhere. But of her later style: I am too certain they will now listen to no “If beneficence be judged by the happiness other. I dread, therefore, to make a trial where which it diffuses, whose claim, by that proof, I despair of success. I know not how to risk shall stand higher than that of Mrs. Montagu, a prayer with those who may silence me by a from the munificence with which she celecommand.”
brated her annual festival for those hapless Take now a specimen of Madame D'Arblay's artificers who perform the most abject offices later style. This is the way in which she tells of any anthorized calling, in being the active us that her father, on his journey back from the guardians of our blazing hearths? continent, caught the rheumatism:
vain-glory, then, but to kindness of heart, “ He was assaulted, during his precipitated should be adjudged the publicity of that superb return, by the rudest fierceness of wintry ele- charity which made its jetty objects, for one mental strife; through which, with bad accom- bright morning, cease to consider themselves modations and innumerable accidents, he be- as degraded outcasts from all society." came a prey to the merciless pangs of the We add one or two shorter samples. Sheri. acutest spasmodic rheumatism, which barely dan refused to permit his lovely wife to sing in suffered him to reach his home, ere, long and public, and was warmly praised on this acpiteously, it confined him, a tortured prisoner, count by Johnson. 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 The club, Johnson's club, did itself no honour of sickness, exchanging the light wines of by rejecting on political grounds two distin France, Italy, and Germany, for the black and guished men, the one a tory, the other a whig. loathsome potions of the Apothecaries' Hall, Madame D'Arblay tells the story thus: “. writhed by darting stitches, and burning with similar ebullition of political rancour with that fiery fever, that he felt the full force of that which so difficultly had been conquered for Mr. sublunary equipoise that seems evermore to Canning, foamed over the ballot-box ic the ex. hang suspended over the attainment of long clusion of Mr. Rogers." sought and uncommon felicity, just as it is An offence punishable with imprisonment ripening to burst forth with enjoyment!" is, in this language, an offence “which pro
Here is a second passage from Evelina: duces incarceration.” To be starved to death
“Mrs. Selwyn is very kind and attentive to is, “to sink from inanition into nonentity." me. She is extremely clever. Her understand. Sir Isaac Newton is, “the developer of the ing, indeed, may be called masculine; but skies in their embodied movements;" and Mrs. unfortunately her manners deserve the same Thrale, when a party of clever people sat epithet. For, in studying to acquire the know. silent, is said to have been "provoked by the 'edge of the other sex, she has lost all the soft- dulness of a taciturnity that, in the midst of ness of her own. In regard to myself, how such renowned interlocutors, produced as narcver, as I have neither courage nor inclination cotic a torpor as could have been caused by a to argue with her, I have never been personally dearth the most barren of all human faculties." hurt at her want of gentleness—a virtue which, '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 10 ridicule. of Sir Sedley Clarendel, approaches this new Indeed, most of the popular novels which euphuism.
preceded Evelina were such as no lady would It is from no unfriendly feeling to Madame have written; and many of them were such D'Arblay's memory that we have expressed as no lady could without confusion evn that ourselves so strongly on the subject of her she had read. The very name of novel was style. On the contrary, we conceive that we held in horror among religious people. In have really rendered a service to her reputa- decent families which did not profess extration. That her later works were complete fail-ordinary sanctity, there was a strong feeling ures is a fact too notorious to be dissembled; against all such works. Sir Anthony Absolute, and some persons, we believe, have conse- iwo 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 dia. tain 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, have more 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 at- Miss Burney did for the English novel what tempted to occupy one in which she had nei- Jeremy Collier did for the English drama; and ther part nor lot, this reproach is common to she did it in a better way. She first showed her with a crowd of distinguished men. New- that a tale might be written in which both the ton failed when he turned from the courses of fashionable and the vulgar life of London the stars, and the ebb and flow of the ocean, to might be exhibited with great force, and with apocalyptic seals and vials. Bentley failed broad comic humour, and which yet should when he turned from Homer and Aristophanes not contain a single line inconsistent with rigid to edit Paradise Lost. Inigo failed when he morality, or even with virgin delicacy. She attempted to rival the Gothic churches of the took away the reproach which lay on a most fourteenth century.
Wilkie failed when he useful and delightful species of composition. took into his head that the Blind Fiddler and She vindicated the right of her sex to an equal the Rent-Day were unworthy of his powers, share in a fair and noble province of letters. and challenged competition with Lawrence as Several accomplished women have followed a portrait painter. Such failures should be in her track. At present, the novels which we noied for the instruction of posterity; but they owe to English ladies form no small part of detract little from the permanent reputation of the literary glory of our country. No class of those who have really done great things. works is more honourably distinguished by
Yet one word more. It is not only on ac- fine observation, by grace, by delicate wit, by count of the intrinsic merit of Madame D'Ar- pure moral feeling. Several among the sucblay's early works that she is en:itled to hon- cessors of Madame D'Arblay hare equalled ourable mention. Her appearance is_an her; two, we think, have surpassed her. But important epoch in our literary history. Eve- the fact that she has been surpassed gives her lina was the first tale written by a woman, and an additional claim to our respect and gratipurporting to be a picture of life and manners, rude; for in truth we owe to her, not only Evethat lived or deserved to live. The Female lina, Cecilia, and Camilla, but also Mansfieid Quixote is no exception. That work has un- Park and the Absentee. doubtedly great merit when considered as a
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ADDISON."
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, JULY, 1843.]
Some reviewers are of opinion that a lady | is, that she has had to describe men and things
ho dares to publish a book renounces by that without having either a correct or a vivid idea act the franchises appertaining to her sex, and of them, and that she has often fallen into ercan claim no exemplion from the utmost rigour rors of a very serious kind. Some of these of critical procedure. From that opinion we errors we may, perhaps, take occasion to point dissent. We admit, indeed, that in a country out. But we have not time to point out one which boasts of many female writers, eminently half of those which we have observed; and it qualified by their talents and acquirements to is but too likely that we may not have ob. influence the public mind, it would be of most served all those which exist. The reputation pernicious consequence that inaccurate history which Miss Aikin has justly earned stands so or unsound philosophy should be suffered to high, and the charm of Addison's letters is so pass uncensured, merely because the offender great, that a second edition of this work may chanced to be a lady. But we conceive that, probably be required. If so, we hope that on such occasions, a critic would do well to every paragraph will be revised, and that every imitate that courteous knight who found him- date and statement of fact about which there self compelled by duty to keep the lists against can be the smallest doubt will be carefully veriBradamante. He, we are told, defended suc-fied. cessfully the cause of which he was the cham- To Addison himself we are bound by a senpion; but, before the fight began, exchanged timent as much like affection as any sentiment Balisarda for a less deadly sword, of which he can be which is inspired by one who has been carefully blunted the poini and edge.t
sleeping a hundred and twenty years in WestNor are the immunities of sex the only im- minster Abbey. We trust, however, that this munities which Miss Aikin may rightfully feeling will not betray us into that abject idolaplead. Several of her works, and especially try which we have often had occasion to reprethe very pleasing Memoirs of the Reign of bend in others, and which seldom fails to make James the First, have fully entitled her to the both the idolater and the idol ridiculous. A privileges enjoyed by good writers. One of man of genius and virtue is but a man. All those privileges we hold to be this, that such his powers cannot be equally developed; nor writers, when, either from the unlucky choice can we expect from him perfect self-knowledge. of a subject, or from the indolence too often We need not, therefore, hesitate to admit that produced by success, they happen to fail, shall Addison has left us some compositions which not be subjected to the severe discipline which do not rise above mediocrity, some heroic it is sometimes necessary to inflict upon dunces poems hardly equal to Parnell's, some criticism and impostors; but shall merely be reminded as superficial as Dr. Blair's, and a tragedy not by a gentle touch, like that with which the La- very much better than Dr. Johnson's. It is putan flapper roused his dreaming lord, that it praise enough to say of a writer, that, in a high is high time to wake.
department of literature, in which many emiOur readers will probably infer from what nent writers have distinguished themselves, he we have said that Miss Aikin's book has dis- has had no equal; and this may with strict appointed us. The truth is, that she is not weli justice be said of Addison. acquaired with her subject. No person who As a man he may not have deserved the ado:s not familiar with the political and literary ration which he received from those, who, behistory 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 apthe 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 parseems, on the other hand, to have read a little ticular good disposition has been more con. about 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 oo * The Life of Joseph Addison. By Lucy Aikin. 2 vols.
servance of every law, not only of moral rec. Orlando Furioso, xlv. 68.
titude, but of moral grace and dignity, distin
vo. London. 1843.
guish him from all men who have been tried by College, Oxford; but he had not been many equally full information.
months there, when some of his Latin verses His father was the Reverend Lancelot Ad- fell by accident into the hands of Dr. Lancasdison, who, though eclipsed by his more cele. ter, dean of Magdalene College. The young brated son, made some figure in the world, and scholar's diction and versification were already occupies with credit iwo folio pages in the such as veteran professors might envy. Dr “ Biographia Britannica.” Lancelot was sent Lancaster was desirous to serve a boy of such up, as a poor scholar, from Westmoreland to promise; nor was an opportunity long wantQueen's College, Oxford, in the time of the ing. The Revolution had just iaken place; Commonwealth; made some progress in learn and nowhere had it been hailed with more deing; became, like most of his fellow-students, light than at Magdalene College. That great a violent royalist; lampeoned the heads of the and opulent corporation had been treated by university, and was forced to ask pardon on his James, and by his chancellor, with an insolence bended knees. When he had left college, he and injustice which, even in such a prince and earned an humble subsistence by reading the in such a minister, may justly excite amazeliturgy of the fallen church to the families of ment; and which had done more than even the those sturdy squires whose manor-houses were prosecution of the bishops 10 alienate the scattered over the Wild of Sussex. After the Church of England from the throne. A prerestoration, his royalty was rewarded with the sident, duly elected, had been violently expelled post of chaplain to the garrison of Dunkirk. from his dwelling. A papist had been set over When Dunkirk was sold to France, he lost his the society by a royal mandate: the Fellows, employment. But Tangier had been ceded by who, in conformity with their oaths, refused to Portugal to England as part of the marriage submit to this usurper, had been driven forih portion of the Infanta Catharine; and to Tan- from their quiet cloisters and gardens, to die gier Lancelot Addison was sent. A more mise of want or to live on charity. But the day of rable situation can hardly be conceived. It was redress and retribution speedily came. Thc difficult to say whether the unfortunate settlers intruders were ejected; the venerable house were more tormented by the heats or by the was again inhabited by its old inmates: learnrains; by the soldiers within the wall or the ing flourished under the rule of the wise and Moors without it. One advantage the chaplain virtuous Hough; and with learning was united had. He enjoyed an excellent opportunity of a mild and liberal spirit, too often wanting in studying the history and manners of the Jews and the princely colleges of Oxford. In conseMohammedans; and of this opportunity he ap- quence of the troubles through which the sopears to have made excellent use. On his return ciety had passed, there had been no election of to England, after some years of banishment, he new members during the year 1688. In 1689, published an interesting volume on the polity therefore, there was twice the ordinary number and religion of Barbary; and another on the of vacancies; and thus Dr. Lancaster found it Hebrew customs, and the state of rabbinical easy to procure for his young friend admittance learning. He rose to eminence in his profes- to the advantages of a foundation then generally sion, and became one of the royal chaplains, a esteemed the wealthiest in Europe. doctor of divinity, archdeacon of Salisbury and At Magdalene, Addison resided during ten dean of Litchfield. It is said that he would years. He was, at first, one of those scholars have been made a bishop aster the Revolution, who are called demies; but was subsequently if he had not given offence to the government elected a fellow. His college is still proud of by strenuously opposing the convocation of his name; his portrait still hangs in the hall; 1689, the liberal policy of William and Tillotson. and strangers are still told that his favourite
In 1672, not long after Dr. Addison's return walk was under the elms which fringe the from Tangier, his son Joseph was born. Of meadow on the banks of the Cherwell. It is Joseph's childhood we know little. He learned said, and is highly probable, that he was dishis rudiments at schools in his father's neigh- tinguished among his fellow-students by the bourhood, and was then sent to the Charter delicacy of his feelings, by the shyness of his House. The anecdotes which are popularly manners, and by the assiduity with which he related about his boyish tricks do not harmo- often prolonged his studies far into the night. nize very well with what we know of his riper It is certain ihat his reputation for ability and years. There remains a tradition that he was learning stood high. Many years later the the ringleader in a barring-out; and another ancient doctors of Magdalene continued to tradition that he ran away from school, and hid lalk in their common room of boyish com himself in a wood, where he fed on berries and positions, and expressed their sorrow that no slept in a hollow tree, till after a long search copy of exercises so remarkable had been he was discovered and brought home. If these preserved. stories be true, it would be curious to know It is proper, however, to remark, that Miss by what moral discipline so mutinous and en- Aikin has committed the error, very pardonterprising a lad was transformed into the gen- able in a lady, of overrating Addison's classitlest and most modest of men.
cal attainments. In one department of learnWe have abundant proof that, whatever Jo- ing, indeed, his proficiency was such as it is seph's pranks may have been, he pursued his hardly possible to overrate. His knowledge studies vigorously and successfully. At fitteen of the Latin poets, from Lucretius and Cahe was not only fit for the university, but car- tullus down to Claudian and Prudentius, was ried thither a classical taste, and a stock of singularly exact and profound. He understood learning which would have done honour to a them thoroughly, entered into their spirit, and master of arts. He was entered at Queen's had the finest and most discriminating percer