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MADAME D'ARBLAY.*

[EDINBURGH Review; JANUARY, 1843.) Trough the world saw and heard little of to be made public. Our hopes, it is trie, were Madame D'Arblay during the last forty years not unmixed with fears. We could not forget of her life, and though that little did not add to the fate of the Memoirs of Dr. Burney, which her fame, there were thousands, we believe, were published ten years ago. That unfortuwho felt a singular emotion when they learned nate book contained much that was curious that she was no longer among us. The news and interesting. Yet it was received with a of her death carried the minds of men back at cry of disgust, and was speedily consigned to one leap, clear over two generations, to the oblivion. The truth is, that it deserved its time when her first literary triumphs were doom. It was written in Madame D'Arblay's won. All those whom we had been accus- later style-the worst style that has ever been tomed to revere as intellectual patriarchs, known among men. No genius, no informaseened children when compared with her; for tion, could save from proscription a book so Burke had sat up all night to read her writ-written. We, therefore, opened the Diary with ings, and Johnson had pronounced her supe- no small anxiety, trembling lest we should light rior to Fielding when Rogers was still a school. upon some of that particular rhetoric which boy, and Southey still in petticoats. Yet more deforms almost every page of the Memoirs, strange did it seem that we should just have and which it is impossible to read without a lost one whose name had been widely cele- sensation made up of mirth, shame and loathbrated before anybody had heard of some illus- ing. We soon, however, discovered to our trious men who, twenty, thirty, or forty years great delight, that this Diary was kept before ago, were, after a long and splendid career, Madame D'Arblay became eloquent. It is, for borne with honour to the grave. Yet so it the most part, written in her earliest and best was. Frances Burney was at the height of manner; in true woman's English, clear, na. fame and popularity before Cowper had pub- tural, and lively. The two works are lying lished his first volume, before Porson had gone side by side before us, and we never turn from np to college, before Pitt had taken his seat in the Memoirs to the Diary without a sense of the House of Commons, before the voice of relief. The difference is as great as the differErskine had been once heard in Westminster ence between the atmosphere of a perfumer's Hall. Since the appearance of her first work, shop, fetid with lavender water and jasmine sixty-two years had passed; and this interval soap, and the air of a heath on a fine morning had been crowded, not only with political, but in May. Both works ought to be consulted by also with intellectual revolutions. Thousands every person who wishes to be well acquainted of reputations had, during that period, sprung with the history of our literature and our manup, bloomed, withered, and disappeared. New ners. But to read the Diary is a pleasure; to kinds of composition had come into fashion, read the Memoirs will always be a task. had gone out of fashion, had been derided, had We may, perhaps, afford some harmless beert forgotten. The fooleries of Della Crusca, amusement to our readers if we attempt, with and the fooleries of Kotzebue, had for a time the help of these two books, to give them an bewitched the multitude, who had left no trace account of the most important years of Madame behind them; nor had misdirected genius been D'Arblay's life. able to save from decay the once flourishing She was descended from a family which bore schools of Godwin, of Darwin, and of Rad- the name of Macburney, and which, though cliffe. Many books, written for temporary probably of Irish origin, had been long settled effect, had run through six or seven editions, in Shropshire, and was possessed of. consider and had then been gathered to the novels of able estates in that county. Unhappily, many Afra Behn, and the epic poems of Sir Richard years before her birth, the Macburneys began, Blackmore. Yet the early works of Madame as if of set purpose and in a spirit of deter: D'Arblay, in spite of the lapse of years, in mined rivalry, to expose and ruin themselves. spite of the change of manners, in spite of the The heir-apparent, Mr. James Macburney, popularity deservedly obtained by some of her offended his father by making a runaway rivals, continued to hold a high place in the match with an actress from Goodman's Fields. public esteem. She lived to be a classic. Time The old gentleman could devise no more judiset on her fame, before she went hence, that cious mode of wreaking vengeance on uis seal which is seldom set except on the fame undutiful boy than by marrying the cook. of the departed. Like Sir Condy Rackrent in The cook gave birth to a son named Joseph, the tale, she survived her own wake, and over- who succeeded to all the lands of the family, *heard the judgment of posterity.

while James was cut off with a shilling. The Having always felt“ a warm and sincere, favorite son, however, was so extravagant, hough not a blind admiration for her talents, that he soon became as poor as his disin. we rejoiced to learn that her Diary was about herited brother. Both were forced to eara

their bread by their labour. Joseph turned Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay. 5 vols.

dancing-master, and settled in Norfolk. James 8vo, London. 1812

struck off the Mac from the beginning of his

name, and set up as a portrait-painter at that of fondling them. It would indeed harp Chester. Here he had a son named Charles, been impossible for him to superintend their well known as the author of the History of cducation himself. His professional engageMusic, and as the father of two remarkable ments occupied him all day. At seven in the children, of a son distinguished by learning, morning he began to attend his pupils, and and of a daughter still more honourably dis- when London was full, was sometimes emtinguished by genius.

ployed in teaching till eleven at night. He Charles early showed a taste for that art, of was often forced to carry in his pocket a tin which, at a later period, he became the his box of sandwiches, and a bottle of wine and torian. He was apprenticed to a celebrated water, on which he dined in a hackner-coach musician in London, and applied himself to while hurrying from one scholar to another. study with vigour and success. He early Two of his daughters he sent to a seminary at found a kind and munificent patron in Fulk Paris; but he imagined that Frances would Greville, a high-born and high-bred man, who run some risk of being perverted from the seems to have had in large measure all the Protestant faith if she were educated in a accomplishments and all the follies, all the Catholic country, and he therefore kept her al virtues and all the vices which, a hundred home. No governess, no teacher of any art years ago, were considered as making up the or of any language was provided for her. B character of a fine gentleman. Under such one of her sisters showed her how to writ protection, the young artist had every prospect and, before she was fourteen, she began to fin of a brilliant career in the capital. But his pleasure in reading. health failed. It became necessary for him to It was not, however, by reading that her in retreat from the smoke and river fog of Lon- tellect was formed. Indeed, when her best don, to the pure air of the coast. He accepted novels were produced, her knowledge of books the place of organist at Lyon, and settled at was very small. When at the height of her that town with a young lady who had recently fame, she was unacquainted with the most become his wife.

celebrated works of Voltaire and Molière, At Lynn, in June, 1752, Frances Burney and, what seems still more extraordinary, hao was born. Nothing in her childhood indicated never heard or seen a line of Churchill, who, that she would, while still a young woman, when she was a girl, was the most popular of bave secured for herself an honourable and living poets. It is particularly deserving of permanent place among English writers. She observation, that she appears to have been by was shy and silent. Her brothers and sisters no means a novel-reader. Her father's library called her a dunce, and not altogether without was large; and he had admitted into it so some show of reason; for at eight years old many books which rigid moralists generally she did not know her letters.

exclude, that he felt uneasy, as he afterwards In 1760, Mr. Barney quitted Lynn for Lon- owned, when Johnson began to examine the don, and took a house in Poland Street; a shelves. But in the whole collection there was situation which had been fashionable in the only a single novel, Fielding's Amelia. reign of Qneen Anne, but which, since that .An education, however, which to most girls time, had been deserted by most of its wealthy would have been useless, but which suited and noble inhabitants. He afterwards resided in Fanny's mind better than elaborate culture, St. Martin's Street, on the south side of Leices- was in constant progress during her passage ter Square. His house there is still well known, from childhood to womanhood. The great and will continue to be well known, as long as book of human nature was turned over before our island retains any trace of civilization; for her. Her father's social position was very it was the dwelling of Newton, and the square peculiar. He belonged in fortune and station met which distinguishes it from all the sur- to the middle class. His daughters seem to rounding buildings was Newton's observatory. have been suffered to mix freely with those

Mr. Barney at once obtained as many pupils wbom hutlers and waiting-maids call vulgar. of the most respectable description as he had. We are told that they were in the habit of time to attend, and was thus enabled to sup-playing with the children of a wig-maker who port his family, modestly indeed, and frugally, lived in the adjoining house. Yet few nobles but in comfort and independence. His pro- could assemble in the most stately mansions fessional inerit obtained for him the degree of of Grosvenor Square or St. James's Square, Doctor of Masic from the University of Ox- a society so various and so brilliant as was ford; and his works on subjects connected sometimes to be found in Dr. Burney's cabin. with his art gained for him a place, respect. His mind, though not very powerful or capaable, though certainly not eminent, among cious, was restlessly active; and, in the intermen of letters. .

vals of his professional pursuits, he had conThe progress of the mind of Frances Bur- trived to lay up much miscellaneous informa. ney, from her ninth to her twenty-fifth year, tion. His attainments, the suavity of his temwell deserves to be recorded. When her edit. per, and the gentle simplicity of his manners, cation had proceeded no further than the horn- had obtained for him ready admission to the nook, she lost her mother, and thenceforward first literary circles. While he was still at she educated herself. Her father appears to Lynn, he had won Johnson's heart by sonndhave been as bad a fatner as a very honest, ing with honest zeal the praises of the English affectionate, and sweet-tempered man can well Dictionary. In London the two friends met be. He loved his daughter dearly, but it never frequently, and agreed most harmoniously. weens to have occurred to him that a parent | One tie, indeed, was wanting to their mutual W other duties 10 perform to children than 'attachment. Burney loved his own art pas

sionately; and Johnson just knew the bell of pocket, and the French Ambassador, M. De St. Clement's Church from the organ. They Guignes, renowned for his fine person and for had, however, many topics in common; and on his success in gallantry. But the great show winter nights their conversations were some of the night was the Russian ambassador, times prolonged till the fire had gone out, and Count Orloff, whose gigantic figure was all in the candles had burned away to the wicks. a blaze with jewels and in whose demeanour Burney's admiration of the powers which had the untamed ferocity of the Scythian might be produced Rasselas and The Rambler, bordered discerned through a thin varnish of French poon idolatry. He gave a singular proof of this liteness. As he stalked about the small par. at his first visit to Johnson's ill-furnished gar. | lour, brushing the ceiling with his toupee, the ret. The master of the apartment was not at girls whispered to each other, with mingled home. The enthusiastic visitor looked about admiration and horror, that he was the favoured for some relique which he might carry away; lover of his august mistress; that he had borne but he could see nothing lighter than the chairs the chief part in the revolution to which she and the fire-irons. At last he discovered an owed her throne; and that his huge hands, now old broom, tore some bristles from the stump, glittering with diamond rings, had given the wrapped them in silver paper, and departed as last squeeze to the windpipe of her unfortunate happy as Louis IX, when the holy nail of St. husband. Denis was found. Johnson, on the other hand, With such iliustrious guests as these were condescended to growl out that Burney was mingled all the most remarkable specimens of an honest fellow, a man whom it was impossi- the race of lions-a kind of game which is ble not to like.

hunted in London every spring with more than Garrick, too. was a frequent visitor in Po- Meltonian ardour and perseverance. Bruce, land Street and St. Martin's Lane. That won- who had washed down steaks cut from living derful actor loved the society of children, partly oxen with water from the fountains of the Nile, from good-nature, and partly from vanity. The came to swagger and talk about his travels. ecstasies of mirth and terror which his ges- | Omai lisped broken English, and made all the ures and play of countenance never failed to assembled musicians hold their ears by howl. produce in a nursery, flattered him quite as ing Otaheitean love-songs, such as those with much as the applause of mature critics. He which Oberea charmed her Opano di often exhibited all his powers of mimicry for With ihe literary and fashionable society the amusement of the little Burneys, awed them which occasionally met under Dr. Burney's by shuddering and crouching as if he saw a roof, Frances can scarcely be said to have ghost, scared them by raving like a maniac in mingled. She was not a musician, and could St. Luke's and then at once became an auc- therefore bear no part in the concerts. She tioneer, a chimney-sweeper, or an old woman, was shy almost to awkwardness, and scarcely and made them laugh till the tears ran down ever joined in the conversation. The slightest their cheeks.

remark from a stranger disconcerted her; and But it would be tedious to recount the names even the old friends of her father who tried to of all the men of letters and artists whom Fran-draw her out could seldom extract more than a ces Burney had an opportunity of sceing and Yes or a No. Her figure was small, her face hearing. Colman, Twining, Harris, Baretti, I not distinguished by beauty. She was thereHawkesworth, Reynolds, Barry, were among fore suffered to withdraw quictly to the backthose who occasionally surrounded the tea: ground, and, unobserved herself, to observe all table and supper-tray at her father's modest that passed. Her nearest relations were aware dwelling. This was not all. The distinction that she had good sense, but seemed not to which Dr. Burney had acquired as a musician, have suspected, that under her dernure and and as the historian of music, attracted to his bashfui deportment were concealed a fertile house the most eminent musical performers of invention and a keen sense of the ridiculous. that age. The greatest Italian singers who She had not, it is true, an eye for the fine shades visited England regarded him as the dispenser of character. But every marked peculiarity of fame in their art, and exerted themselves to instantly caught her notice and remained enobtain his suffrage. Pachieroti became his in-graven on her imagination. Thus, while still timate friend. The rapacious Agujari, who a girl, she had laid up such a store of materials sang for nobody else under fifty pounds an air, 1 for fiction as few of those who mix much in sang her best for Dr. Burney without a fee; the world are able to accumulate during a long and in the company of Dr. Burney even the life. She had watched and listened to people. haughty and eccentric Gabrielli constrained of every class, from princes and great officers herself to behave with civility. It was thus in of state down to artists living in garrets, and his power to give, with scarcely any expense, poets familiar with subterranean cook-shops. concerts equal to those of the aristocracy. On Hundreds of remarkable persons had passed such occasions the quiet street in which he in review before her, English, French, Gerlived was blocked up by coroneted chariots, man, Italian, lords and fiddlers, deans of catheand his little drawing-room was crowded withdrals, and managers of theatres, travellers leadpeers, peeresses, ministers, and ambassadors. ing about newly caught savages, and singing On one evening, of which we happen to have women escorted by deputy-husbands. 1961 a full account, there were present Lord Mul! So strong was the impression made on tha grave, Lord Bruce, Lord and Lady Edgecumbe, mind of Frances by the society which she was Lord Barrington from the War-Office, Lord in the habit of seeing and hearing, that she he. Sandwich from the Admiralty, Lord Ashburn- gan to write little fictitious narratives as soon kam, with his gold key dangling from his as she could use her pen with ease, which, as

we have said, was not very early. Her sisters they now preser, we have no doubt, Jack Shepwere amused by her stories. Bat Dr. Burney pard to Von Artevelde. A man of great origiknew nothing of their existence; and in another nal genius, on the other hand, a man who has quarter her literary propensities met with se- attained to mastery in some high walk of art rious discouragement. When she was fifteen, is by no means to be implicitly trusted as a her father took a second wife. The new Mrs. judge of the performances of others. The er Burney soon found out that her daughter-in-roneous decisions pronounced by such med law was fond of scribbling, and delivered seve- are without number. It is commonly supposed ral good-natured lectures on the subject. The that jealousy makes them unjust. But a more advice no doubt was well meant, and might creditable explanation may easily be found." have been given by the most judicious friend; The very excellence of a work shows that some for at that time, from causes to which we may of the faculties of the author have been develhereafter advert, nothing could be more disad-oped at the expense of the rest; for it is not vantageous to a young lady than to be known given to the human intellect to expand itself as a novel-writer. Frances yielded, relinquish- widely in all directions at once, and to be at ed her favourite pursuit, and made a bonfire of the same time gigantic and well-proportioned. all her manuscripts.*

Whoever becomes pre-eminent in any art, nay, She now hemmed and stitched from break in any style of art, generally does so by devotfast to dinner with scrupulous regularity. But ing himself with intense and exclusive enthuthe dinners of that time were early; and the siasm to the pursuit of one kind of excellence. afternoon was her own. Though she had given His perception of other kinds of excellence is up novel-writing, she was still fond of using therefore too often impaired. Out of his own her pen. She began to keep a diary, and she department he praises and blames at random, corresponded largely with a person who seems and is far less to be trusted than the mere conto have had the chief share in the formation of noisseur, who produces nothing, and whose her mind. This was Samuel Crisp, an old business is only to judge and enjoy. One friend of her father. His name, well known painter is distinguished by his exquisite finishnear a century ago, in the most splendid cir- ing. He toils day after day to bring the veins ctes of London, has long been forgotten. His of a cabbage-leaf, the folds of a lace veil, the history is, however, so interesting and instruc- wrinkles of an old woman's face, nearer and tive, that it tempts us to venture on a digression. nearer to perfection. In the time which he

Long before Frances Burney was born, Mr. employs on a square foot of canvass, a master Crisp had made his entrance into the world of a different order covers the walls of a palace with every advantage. He was well connected with gods burying giants under mountains, or and well educated. His face and figure were makes the cupola of a church alive with seraconspicuously handsome; his manners were phim and martyrs. The more fervent the paspolished; his fortune was easy; his character sion of each of these artists for his art, the was without stain; he lived in the best society; higher the merit of each in his own line, the he had read much; he talked well; his taste in more unlikely it is that they will justly appreliterature, music, painting, architecture, sculp- ciate each other. Many persons who never ture, was held in high esteem. Nothing that handled a pencil, probably do far rore justice the world can give seemed to be wanting to to Michael Angelo than would have been done his happiness and respectability, except that by Gerhard Douw, and far more justice to Gerhe should understand the limits of his powers, hard Douw than would have been done by Miand should not throw away distinctions which chael Angelo. were within his reach, in the pursuit of dis It is the same with literature. Thousands tinctions which were unattainable.

who have no spark of the genius of Dryden or “It is an une ontrolled truth,” says Swis, Wordsworth, do to Dryden the justice which "that no man ever made an ill figure who un- has never been done by Wordsworth, and to derstood his own talents, nor a good one who Wordsworth the justice which, we suspect, mistook them.” Every day brings with it fresh would never have been done by Dryden. Gray, illustrations of this weighty saying; but the Johnson, Richardson, Fielding, are all highly best commentary that we remember is the bis-esteemed by the great body of intelligent and tory of Samuel Crisp. Men like him have their well-informed men. But Gray could see no proper place, and it is a most important one, merit in Rasselas; and Johnson could see no in the Commonwealth of Letters. It is by the merit in the Bard. Fielding thought Richardjudgment of such men that the rank of authors sou a solemn prig; and Richardson perpeinally is finally determined. It is neither to the mul- expressed contempt and disgust for Fielding's titude, nor to the few who are gifted with great lowness. creative genius, that we are to look for sound Mr. Crisp seems, as far as we can judge, to critical decisions. The multitude, unacquainted have been a man eminently qualified for the with the best models, are captivated by what useful office of a connoisseur. His talents and ever stuns and dazzles them. They deserted knowledge fitted him to appreciate justly al Mrs. Sıddons to run after Master Betty; and most every species of intellectual superiority

As an adviser he was inestimable. Nay, he + There is some dificulty here as to the chronolouy. might probably have held a respectable rank "This sacrifice," says the editor of the Diary, "was naile in the young authoress's fifteenth year."

as a writer, if he would have confined himselt cond not be for the sacrifice was the effect, accord- to some department of literature in which no. ing to the editor's own showing of the remonstrances thing more than sense, taste, and reading was of the second Nirs. Burney; and Frances was in her required. Unhappily he set his heart on besixteenth year when her father's second marriage took Nace.

ing a great poet, wrote a tragedy in five acts

This

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 Nothing that skill or friendship could do was benefit-nights to which he had no claim. He omitted. Garrick wrote both prologue and epi- complained of the injustice of the spectators, logue. The zealous friends of the author filled when, in truth, he ought to have been grateful every box; and, by their strenuous exertions, for their unexampled patience. He lost his the life of the play was prolonged during ten temper and spirits, and became a cynic and a nights. But, though there was no clamorous hater of mankind. From London he retired to reprobation, it was universally felt that the at- Hampton, and from Hampton to a solitary and tempt had failed. When Virginia was printed, long-deserted mansion, built on a common in the public disappointment was even greater one of the wildest tracts of Surrey. No road, than at the representation. The critics, the not even a sheep-walk, connected his lonely Monthly Reviewers in particular, fell on plot, dwelling with the abodes of men. The place characters, and diction, without mercy, but, we of his retreat was strictly concealed from his fear, not without justice. We have never met old associates. In the spring he sometimes with a copy of the play; but, if we may judge emerged, and was seen at exhibitions and confrom the lines which are extracted in the Gen-certs in London. But he soon disappeared and tleman's Magazine, and which do not appear bid himself, with no society but his books, in to have been malevolently selected, we should his dreary hermitage. IIe survived his failure say that nothing but the acting of Garrick, and about thirty years. A new generation sprang the partiality of the audience, could have saved up around him. No memory of his bad verses so feeble and unnatural a drama from instant remained among men. How completely the damnation.

world had lost sight of him, will appear from The ambition of the poet was still unsub- a single circumstance. We looked for his lued. When the London season closed, he name in a copious Dictionary of Dramatic applied himself vigorously to the work of re- Authors, published while he was still alive, moving blemishes. He does not seem to have and we found only that Mr. Samuel Crisp, of suspected, what we are strongly inclined to the Custom-House, had written a play called suspect, that the whole piece was one blemish, Virginia, acted in 1751. To the last, however, and that the passages which were meant to be the unhappy man continued to brood over the fine, vere, in truth, bursts of that tame extra-injustice of the manager and the pit, and tried vagance into which writers fall, when they set to convince himself and others that he had themselves to be sublime and pathetic in spite missed the highest literary honours only beof nature. He omitted, added, retouched, and cause he had omitted some fine passages in lattered himself with hopes of complete suc-compliance with Garrick's judgment. Alas, cess in the following year; but, in the follow- for human nature! that the wounds of vanity ing year, Garrick showed no disposition to bring should smart and bleed so much longer than the amended tragedy on the stage. Solicitation the wounds of affection! Few people, we beand remonstrance were tried in vain. Lady lieve, whose nearest friends and relatans died Coventry, drooping under that malady which in 1754, had any acute feeling of the ass in seems ever to select what is loveliest for its 1782. Dear sisiers and favourite daughters, prey, could render no assistance. The mana- and brides snatched away before the honeyger's language was civilly evasive, but his moon was passed, had been forgotten, or were resolution was inflexible.

remembered only with a tranquil regret. But Crisp had committed a great error; but he Samuel Crisp was still mourning for his tra had escaped with a very slight pênance. His gedy like Rachael weeping for her children, play had not been hooted from the boards. It and would not be comforted. “Never," such had, on the contrary, been better received than was his language twenty-eight years after his many very estimable performances have been disaster, “never give up or alter a title unless -than Johnson's Irene, for example, and Gold- it perfectly coincides with your own inward smith's Good-Natured Man. Had Crisp been feelings. I can say this to my sorrow and my wise, he would have thought himself happy in cost. But, mům ! Soon after these words baving purchased self-knowledge so cheap. were written, his life-a life which might have He would have relinquished without vain re- been eminently useful and happy-ended in pinings the hope of poetical distinction, and the same gloom in which, during more than a would have turned to the many sources of quarter of a century, it had been passed. We happiness which he still possessed. Had he have thought it worth while to rescue from Vol. V.-73

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