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on the death of Virginia, and offered it to Gar- | been, on the other hand, an unfeeling and un rick, who was his personal friend. Garrick blushing dunce, he would have gone on writread it, shook his head, and expressed a doubt ing scores of bad tragedies in defiance of cenwhether it would be wise in Mr. Crisp to stake sure and derision. But he had too much sense a reputation which stood high on the success to risk a second defeat, yet too little to bear his of such a piece. But the author, blinded by first defeat like a man. The fatal delusion that self-love, set in motion a machinery such as he was a great dramatist had taken firm posnone could long resist. His intercessors were session of his mind. His failure he attributed the most eloquent man and the most lovely to every cause except the true one. He comwoman of that generation. Pitt was induced plained of the ill-will of Garrick, who appears to read Virginia, and to pronounce it excellent. to have done every thing that ability and zeal Lady Coventry, with fingers which might have could do; and who, from selfish motives, would furnished a model to sculptors, forced the manu- of course have been well pleased if Virginia script into the reluctant hand of the manager; had been as successful as the Beggar's Opera. and, in the year 1754, the play was brought Nay, Crisp complained of the languor of the forward. friends whose partiality had given him three benefit-nights to which he had no claim. He complained of the injustice of the spectators, when, in truth, he ought to have been grateful for their unexampled patience. He lost his temper and spirits, and became a cynic and a hater of mankind. From London he retired to Hampton, and from Hampton to a solitary and long-deserted mansion, built on a common in one of the wildest tracts of Surrey. No road, not even a sheep-walk, connected his lonely dwelling with the abodes of men. The place of his retreat was strictly concealed from his old associates. In the spring he sometimes emerged, and was seen at exhibitions and concerts in London. But he soon disappeared and hid himself, with no society but his books, in his dreary hermitage. He survived his failure about thirty years. A new generation sprang up around him. No memory of his bad verses remained among men. How completely the world had lost sight of him, will appear from a single circumstance. We looked for his name in a copious Dictionary of Dramatic Authors, published while he was still alive, and we found only that Mr. Samuel Crisp, of the Custom-House, had written a play called Virginia, acted in 1754. To the last, however, the unhappy man continued to brood over the injustice of the manager and the pit, and tried to convince himself and others that he had missed the highest literary honours only be cause he had omitted some fine passages in compliance with Garrick's judgment. Alas, for human nature! that the wounds of vanity should smart and bleed so much longer than the wounds of affection! Few people, we believe, whose nearest friends and relat.ns died in 1754, had any acute feeling of the ss in 1782. Dear sisters and favourite daughters, and brides snatched away before the honeymoon was passed, had been forgotten, or were remembered only with a tranquil regret. But Samuel Crisp was still mourning for his tra gedy like Rachael weeping for her children, and would not be comforted. Never," such was his language twenty-eight years after his disaster, “never give up or alter a title unless perfectly coincides with your own inward feelings. I can say this to my sorrow and my cost. But, mum!" Soon after these words were written, his life-a life which might have been eminently useful and happy-ended in the same gloom in which, during more than a quarter of a century, it had been passed. We have thought it worth while to rescue from 3 C
Nothing that skill or friendship could do was omitted. Garrick wrote both prologue and epilogue. The zealous friends of the author filled every box; and, by their strenuous exertions, the life of the play was prolonged during ten nights. But, though there was no clamorous reprobation, it was universally felt that the attempt had failed. When Virginia was printed, the public disappointment was even greater than at the representation. The critics, the Monthly Reviewers in particular, fell on plot, characters, and diction, without mercy, but, we fear, not without justice. We have never met with a copy of the play; but, if we may judge from the lines which are extracted in the Gentleman's Magazine, and which do not appear to have been malevolently selected, we should say that nothing but the acting of Garrick, and the partiality of the audience, could have saved so feeble and unnatural a drama from instant damnation.
The ambition of the poet was still unsubdued. When the London season closed, he applied himself vigorously to the work of removing blemishes. He does not seem to have suspected, what we are strongly inclined to suspect, that the whole piece was one blemish, and that the passages which were meant to be fine, v ere, in truth, bursts of that tame extravagance into which writers fall, when they set themselves to be sublime and pathetic in spite of nature. He omitted, added, retouched, and flattered himself with hopes of complete success in the following year; but, in the following year, Garrick showed no disposition to bring the amended tragedy on the stage. Solicitation and remonstrance were tried in vain. Lady Coventry, drooping under that malady which seems ever to select what is loveliest for its prey, could render no assistance. The manager's language was civilly evasive, but his resolution was inflexible.
Crisp had committed a great error; but he
oblivion this curious fragment of literary history. It seems to us at once ludicrous, melancholy, and full of instruction.
Crisp was an old and very intimate friend of the Burneys. To them alone was confided the name of the desolate old hall in which he hid himself like a wild beast in a den. For them were reserved such remains of his humanity as had survived the failure of his play. Frances Burney he regarded as his daughter. He called her his Fannikin, and she in return called him her dear Daddy. In truth, he seems to have done much more than her real father for the development of her intellect; for though he was a bad poet, he was a scholar, a thinker, and an excellent counsellor. He was particularly fond of Dr. Burney's concerts. They had, indeed, been commenced at his suggestion, and when he visited London he constantly attended them. But when he grew old, and when gout, brought on partly by mental irritation, confined him to his retreat, he was desirous of having a glimpse of that gay and brilliant world from which he was exiled, and he pressed Fannikin to send him full accounts of her father's evening parties. A few of her letters to him have been published; and it is impossible to read them without discerning in them all the powers which afterwards produced Evelina and Cecilia, the quickness in catching every odd peculiarity of character and manner, the skill in grouping, the humour, often richly comic, sometimes even farcical.
Fanny's propensity to novel-writing had for a time been kept down. It now rose up stronger than ever. The heroes and heroines of the tales which had perished in the flames, were still present to the eye of her mind. One favourite story, in particular, haunted her imagination. It was about a certain Caroline Evelyn, a beautiful damsel who made an unfortunate love match, and died, leaving an infant daughter. Frances began to imagine to herself the various scenes, tragic and comic, through which the poor motherless girl, highly connected on one side, meanly connected on the other, might have to pass. A crowd of unreal beings, good and bad, grave and ludicrous, surrounded the pretty, timid, young orphan; a coarse sea-captain; an ugly insolent fop, blazing in a superb court-dress; another fop, as ugly and as insolent, but lodged on Snow-Hill, and tricked out in second-hand finery for the Hampstead ball; an old woman, all wrinkles and rouge, flirting her fan with the air of a Miss of seventeen, and screaming in a dialect made up of vulgar French and vulgar English; a poet lean and ragged, with a broad Scottish accent. By degrees these shadows acquired stronger and stronger consistence: the impulse which urged Frances to write became irresistible; and the result was the history of Evelina.
Then came, naturally enough, a wish, mingled with many fears, to appear before the public; for, timid as Frances was, and bashful, and altogether unaccustomed to hear her own praises, it is clear that she wanted neither a strong passion for distinction, nor a just confidence in her own powers. Her scheme was to become, if possible, a candidate for fame
without running any risk of disgrace. She had not money to bear the expense of printing. It was therefore necessary that some bookseller should be induced to take the risk; and such a bookseller was not readily found. Dodsley refused even to look at the manuscript unless he were trusted with the name of the author. A publisher in Fleet street, named Lowndes, was more complaisant. Some correspondence ook place between this person and Miss Burney, who took the name of Grafton, and desired that the letters addressed to her might be left at the Orange Coffee-House. But, before the bargain was finally struck, Fanny thought it her duty to obtain her father's consent. She told him that she had written a book, that she wished to have his permission to publish it anonymously, but that she hoped that he would not insist upon seeing it. What followed may serve to illustrate what we meant when we said that Dr. Burney was as bad a father as so good-hearted a man could possibly be. It never seems to have crossed his mind that Fanny was about to take a step on which the whole happiness of her life might depend, a step which might raise her to an honourable eminence, or cover her with ridicule and contempt. Several people had already been trusted, and strict concealment was therefore not to be expected. On so grave an occasion, it was surely his duty to give his best counsel to his daughter, to win her confidence, to prevent her from exposing herself if her book were a bad one, and, if it were a good one, to see that the terms which she made with the publisher were likely to be beneficial to her. Instead of this, he only stared, burst out a laughing, kissed her, gave her leave to do as she liked, and never even asked the name of her work. The con tract with Lowndes was speedily concluded. Twenty pounds were given for the copyright, and were accepted by Fanny with delight. Her father's inexcusable neglect of his duty, hap pily, caused her no worse evil than the loss of twelve or fifteen hundred pounds.
After many delays Evelina appeared in Jannary, 1778. Poor Fanny was sick with terror, and durst hardly stir out of doors. Some days passed before any thing was heard of the book. It had, indeeɑ, nothing but its own merits to push it into public favour. Its author was unknown. The house by which it was published was not, we believe, held in high estimation, No body of partisans had been engaged to applaud. The better class of readers expected little from a novel about a young lady's entrance into the world. There was, indeed, at that time, a disposition among the most re spectable people to condemn novels generally: nor was this disposition by any means without excuse; for works of that sort were almost always silly, and very frequently wicked.
Soon, however, the first faint accents of praise began to be heard. The keepers of the circulating libraries reported that everybody was asking for Evelina, and that some person had guessed Anstey to be the author. Then came a favourable notice in the London Review; then another still more favourable in the Monthly. And now the book found its way to tables which had seldom been polluted
by marble-covered volumes.
felt toward Fanny as toward a younger sister. With the Thrales Johnson was domesticated. He was an old friend of Dr. Burney. but he had probably taken little notice of Dr. Burney's daughters, and Fanny, we imagine, had never in her life dared to speak to him, unless to ask whether he wanted a nineteenth or a twentieth cup of tea. He was charmed by her tale, and preferred it to the novels of Fielding, to whom, indeed, he had always been grossly unjust. He did not indeed carry his partiality so far as to place Evelina by the side of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison; yet he said that his little favourite had done enough to have made even Richardson feel uneasy. With Johnson's cordial approbation of the book was mingled a fondness, half gallant, half paternal, for the writer; and this fondness his age and character entitled him to show without restraint. He began by putting her The book had been admired while it was hand to his lips. But soon he clasped her ascribed to men of letters long conversant in his huge arms, and implored her to be a with the world, and accustomed to composi- good girl. She was his pet, his dear love, his tion. But when it was known that a reserved, dear little Burney, his little character-monger. silent young woman had produced the best At one time, he broke forth in praise of the work of fiction that had appeared since the good taste of her caps. At another time, he death of Smollett, the acclamations were re-insisted on teaching her Latin. That, with all doubled. What she had done was, indeed, his coarseness and irritability, he was a man extraordinary. But, as usual, several reports of sterling benevolence, has long been acimproved the story till it became miraculous. knowledged. But how gentle and endearing Evelina, it was said, was the work of a girl of his deportment could be, was not known till seventeen. Incredible as this tale was, it con- the Recollections of Madame D'Arblay were tinued to be repeated down to our own time. published. Frances was too honest to confirm it. Proba- We have mentioned a few of the most emibly she was too much a woman to contradict nent of those who paid their homage to the it; and it was long before any of her detractors author of Evelina. The crowd of inferior thought of this mode of annoyance. Yet there admirers would require a catalogue as long was no want of low minds and bad hearts in as that in the second book of the Iliad. In that the generation which witnessed her first ap- catalogue would be Mrs. Cholmondeley, the pearance. There was the envious Kenrick and sayer of odd things, and Seward, much given the savage Wolcot, the asp George Steevens to yawning, and Baretti, who slew the man in and the polecat John Williams. It did not, the Haymarket, and Paoli, talking broken Enghowever, occur to them to search the parish-lish, and Langton, taller by the head than any register of Lynn, in order that they might be other member of the club, and Lady Millar, able to twit a lady with having concealed her who kept a vase wherein fools were wont to age. That truly chivalrous exploit was re- put bad verses, and Jerningham, who wrote served for a bad writer of our own time, whose verses fit to be put into the vase of Lady spite she had provoked by not furnishing him Millar, and Dr. Franklin-not, as some have with materials for a worthless edition of Bos- dreamed, the great Pennsylvania Dr. Franklin, well's Life of Johnson, some sheets of which who could not then have paid his respects our readers have doubtless seen round par- to Miss Burney without much risk of being cels of better books. hanged, drawn and quartered, but Dr. Franklin the less
But we must return to our story. The triumph was complete. The timid and obscure girl found herself on the highest pinnacle of fame. Great men, on whom she had gazed at a distance with humble reverence, addressed her with admiration; tempted by the tenderness due to her sex and age. Burke, Windham, Gibbon, Reynolds, Sheridan, were among her most ardent eulogists. Cumberland acknowledged her merit, after his fashion, by biting his lips and wriggling in his chair whenever her name was mentioned. But it was at Streatham that she tasted, in the highest perfection, the sweets of flattery, mingled with the sweets of friendship. Mrs. Thrale, then at the height of prosperity and popularity-with gay spirits, quick wit, showy, though superficial acquirements, pleasing though not refined manners, a singularly amiable temper, and a loving heart
μέιων, ούτι τόσος γε ὅσος Τελαμώνιος Αΐας, ἀλλὰ πολὺ μέιων.
It would not have been surprising if such success had turned even a strong head, and corrupted even a generous and affectionate nature. But, in the Diary, we can find no trace of any feeling inconsistent with a truly modest and amiable disposition. There is, indeed, abundant proof that Frances enjoyed, with an intense, though a troubled joy, the honours which her genius had won; but it is equally clear that her happiness sprang from the hap piness of her father, her sister, and her Daddy Crisp. While flattered by the great, the opu lent, the learned; while followed along the
Steyne at Brighton and the Pantiles at Tun-live out another day. Adieu, my dear daddy! bridge Wells by the gaze of admiring crowds, I wont be mortified, and I won't be drowned; but her heart seems to have been still with the lit- I will be proud to find I have, out of my own tle domestic circle in St. Martin's street. If family, as well as in it, a friend who loves me sne recorded with minute diligence all the well enough to speak plain truth to me.” compliments, delicate and coarse, which she Frances now turned from her dramatic heard wherever she turned, she recorded them schemes to an undertaking far better suited to for the eyes of two or three persons who had her talents. She determined to write a new loved her from infancy, who had loved her in tale, on a plan excellently contrived for the dis obscurity, and to whom her fame gave the play of the powers in which her superiority to purest and most exquisite delight. Nothing other writers lay. It was in truth a grand and va can be more unjust than to confound these out-rious picture-gallery, which presented to the eye pourings of a kind heart, sure of perfect sym- a long series of men and women, each marked pathy, with the egotism of a blue-stocking, who by some strong peculiar feature. There were prates to all who come near her about her own avarice and prodigality, the pride of blood and novel or her own volume of sonnets. the pride of money, morbid restlessness and morbid apathy, frivolous garrulity, supercilious silence, a Democritus to laugh at every thing, and a Heraclitus to lament over every thing. The work proceeded fast, and in twelve months was completed. It wanted something of the simplicity which had been among the most attractive charms of Evelina; but it furnished ample proof that the four years which had elapsed since Evelina appeared, had not been unprofitably spent. Those who saw Cecilia in manuscript pronounced it the best novel of the age. Mrs. Thrale laughed and wept over it. Crisp was even vehement in applause, and offered to insure the rapid and complete suc cess of the book for half-a-crown. What Miss Burney received for the copyright is not men tioned in the Diary; but we have observed several expressions from which we infer that the sum was considerable. That the sale would be great nobody could doubt: and Frances now had shrewd and experienced advisers, who would not suffer her to wrong herself. We have been told that the publishers gave her two thousand pounds, and we have no doubt that they might have given a still larger sum with out being losers.
It was natural that the triumphant issue of Miss Burney's first venture should tempt her to try a second. Evelina, though it had raised her fame, had added nothing to her fortune. Some of her friends urged her to write for the stage. Johnson promised to give her his advice as to the composition. Murphy, who was supposed to understand the temper of the pit as well as any man of his time, undertook to instruct her as to stage effect. Sheridan declared that he would accept a play from her without even reading it. Thus encouraged, she wrote a comedy named The Witlings. Fortunately, it was never acted or printed. We can, we think, easily perceive from the little which is said on the subject in the Diary, that The Witlings would have been damned, and that Murphy and Sheridan thought so, though they were too polite to say so. Happily Frances had a friend who was not afraid to give her pain. Crisp, wiser for her than he had been for himself, read the manuscript in his lonely retreat, and manfully told her that she had failed, that to remove blemishes here and there would be useless, that the piece had abundance of wit but no interest, that it was bad as a whole, that it would remind every reader of the Femmes Savantes, which, strange to say, she had never read, and that she could not sustain so close a comparison with Molière. This opinion, in which Dr. Burney concurred, was sent to Frances in what she called "a hissing, groaning, cat-calling epistle." But she had too much sense not to know that it was better to be hissed and cat-called by her Daddy than by a whole sea of heads in the pit of Drury-lane Theatre; and she had too good a heart not to be grateful for so rare an act of friendship. She returned an answer which shows how well she deserved to have a judicious, faithful and affectionate adviser. I intend," she wrote, "to console myself for your censure by this greatest proof I have ever received of the sincerity, candour, and let me add, esteem of my dear daddy. And as I happen to love myself rather more than my play, this consolation is not a very trifling one. This, however, seriously I do believe, that when my two daddies put their heads together to concert that hissing, groaning, cat-calling epistle they sent me, they felt as sorry for poor little Miss Bayes as she could possibly do for herself. You see I do not attempt to repay your frankness with the air of pretended carelessness. But, though somewhat disconcerted just now. I will promise not to let my vexation
Cecilia was published in the summer of 1782. The curiosity of the town was intense. We have been informed by persons who re member those days, that no romance of Sir Walter Scott was more impatiently awaited, or more eagerly snatched from the counters of the booksellers. High as public expectation was, it was amply satisfied; and Cecilia was placed, by general acclamation, among the classical novels of England.
Miss Burney was now thirty. Her youth had been singularly prosperous; but clouds soon began to gather over that clear and radiant dawn. Events deeply painful to a heart so kind as that of Frances followed each other in rapid succession. She was first called upon to attend the death-bed of her best friend, Samuel Crisp. When she returned to St. Martin's street, after performing the melancholy duty, she was appalled by hearing that Johnson had been struck with paralysis; and, not many months later, she parted from him for the last time with solemn tenderness. He wished to look on her once more; and on the day before his death she long remained in tears on the stairs leading to his bed-room, in the hope that she might be called in to receive his blessing. But he was then sinking fast, and though he sent her an affectionate message, was unable
to see her. But this was not the worst. There are separations far more cruel than those which are made by death. Frances might weep with proud affection for Crisp and Johnson. She had to blush as well as to weep for Mrs. Thrale.
great part of Shakspeare? Only one must not say so. But what think you? What? Is there not sad stuff? What? What?"
The next day Frances enjoyed the privilege of listening to some equally valuable criticisms uttered by the queen touching Goethe and Life, however, still smiled upon her. Domes- Klopstock, and might have learned an importtic happiness, friendship, independence, lei-ant lesson of economy from the mode in which sure, letters, all these things were hers; and her majesty's library had been formed. "I she flung them all away. picked the book up on a stall," said the queen. Among the distinguished persons to whom "Oh, it is amazing what good books there are Miss Burney had been introduced, none ap-on stalls!" Mrs. Delany, who seems to have pears to have stood higher in her regard than understood from these words that her majesty Mrs. Delany. This lady was an interesting was in the habit of exploring the booths of and venerable relic of a past age. She was the Moorfields and Holywell Street in person, niece of George Granville Lord Lansdowne, could not suppress an exclamation of surprise. who, in his youth, exchanged verses and com- Why," said the queen, "I don't pick them up pliments with Edmund Waller, and who was myself. But I have a servant very clever; and, among the first to applaud the opening talents if they are not to be had at the booksellers, they of Pope. She had married Dr. Delany, a man are not for me more than for another." Miss known to his contemporaries as a profound Burney describes this conversation as delightscholar and an eloquent preacher, but remem- ful; and, indeed, we cannot wonder that, with bered in our time chiefly as one of the small her literary tastes, she should be delighted at circle in which the fierce spirit of Swift, tor- hearing in how magnificent a manner the greattured by disappointed ambitiou, by remorse, est lady in the land encouraged literature. and by the approaches of madness, sought for amusement and repose. Dr. Delany had long been dead. His widow, nobly descended, eminently accomplished, and retaining, in spite of the infirmities of advanced age, the vigour of her faculties and the serenity of her temper, enjoyed and deserved the favour of the royal family. She had a pension of three hundred a year; and a house at Windsor, belonging to the crown, had been fitted up for her accommodation. At this house the king and queen sometimes called, and found a very natural pleasure in thus catching an occasional glimpse of the private life of English families.
The truth is, that Frances was fascinated by the condescending kindness of the two great personages to whom she had been presented. Her father was even more infatuated than herself. The result was a step of which we cannot think with patience, but which, recorded as it is, with all its consequences, in these volumes, deserves at least this praise, that it has furnished a most impressive warning.
A German lady of the name of Haggerdorn, one of the keepers of the queen's robes, retired about this time; and her majesty offered the vacant post to Miss Burney. When we consider that Miss Burney was decidedly the most In December, 1785, Miss Burney was on a popular writer of fictitious narrative then livvisit to Mrs. Delany at Windsor. The dinnering, that competence, if not opulence, was withwas over. The old lady was taking a nap. Her in her reach, and that she was more than usugrandniece, a little girl of seven, was playing ally happy in her domestic circle, and when we at some Christmas game with the visitors, compare the sacrifice which she was invited to when the door opened, and a stout gentleman make with the remuneration which was held entered unannounced, with a star on his breast, out to her, we are divided between laughter and and "What? what? what?" in his mouth. A indignation. cry of the king" was set up. A general scampering followed. Miss Burney owns that she could not have been more terrified if she had seen a ghost. But Mrs. Delany came forward to pay her duty to her royal friend, and the disturbance was quieted. Frances was then presented, and underwent a long examination and cross-examination about all that she had written and all that she meant to write. The queen soon made her appearance, and his majesty repeated, for the benefit of his consort, the information which he had extracted from Miss Burney. The good-nature of the royal pair might have softened even the authors of the Probationary Odes, and could not but be delightful to a young lady who had been brought up a tory. In a few days the visit was repeated. Miss Burney was more at ease than before. His majesty, instead of seeking for information, condescended to impart it, and passed sentence on many great writers, English and foreign. Voltaire he pronounced a monster. Rousseau he liked rather better. But was there ever," he cried, "such stuff as
What was demanded of her was, that she should consent to be almost as completely separated from her family and friends as if she had gone to Calcutta, and almost as close a prisoner as if she had been sent to jail for a libel; that with talents which had instructed and delighted the highest living minds, she should now be employed only in mixing snuff and sticking pins; that she should be summoned by a waiting-woman's bell to a waiting woman's duties; that she should pass her whole life under the restraints of paltry etiquette, should sometimes fast till she was ready to swoon with hunger, should sometimes stand till her knees gave way with fatigue; that she should not dare to speak or move without considering how her mistress might like her words and gestures. Instead of those distinguished men and women, the flower of all political par ties, with whom she had been in the habit of mixing on terms of equal friendship, she was to have for her perpetual companion the chief keeper of the robes, an old hag from Germany of mean understanding, of insolent manners,