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to Bath, and from Bath, when the winter was approaching, returned well and cheerful to London. There she visited her old dungeon, and found her successor already far on the way to the grave, and kept to strict duty, from morning till midnight, with a sprained ankle and a nervous fever.
At this time England swarmed with French exiles driven from their country by the Revolution. A colony of these refugees settled at Juniper Hall in Surrey, not far from Norbury Park, where Mr Lock, an intimate friend of the Burney family, resided. Frances visited Norbury, and was introduced to the strangers. She had strong prejudices against them; for her Toryism was far beyond, we do not say that of Mr Pitt, but that of Mr Reeves, and the inmates of Juniper Hall were all attached to the constitution of 1791, and were therefore more detested by the royalists of the first emigration than Petion or Marat. But such a woman as Miss Burney coulil not long resist the fascination of that remarkable society. She had lived with Johnson and Windham, with Mrs Montague and Mrs Thrale. Yet she was forced to own that she had never heard conversation before. The most animated eloquence, the keenest observation, the most sparkling wit, the most courtly grace, were united to charm her. For Madame de Staël was there, and M. de Talleyrand. There too was M. de Narbonne, a noble representative of French aristocracy ; and with M. de Narbonne was his friend and follower General D'Arblay, an honourable and amiable man, with a handsome person, frank soldierlike manners, and some taste for letters.
The prejudices which Frances had conceived against the constitutional royalists of France rapidly vanished. She listened with rapture to Talleyrand and Madame de Staël, joined with M. D'Arblay in execrating the Jacobins and in weeping for the unhappy Bourbons, took French lessons from him, fell in love with him, and married him on no better provision than a precarious annuity of one hundred pounds.
Here the Diary stops for the present. We will, therefore, bring our narrative to a speedy close, by rapidly recounting the most important events which we know to have befallen Madame D'Arblay during the latter part of her life.
M. D'Arblay's fortune had perished in the general wreck of the French Revolution ; and in a foreign country his talents, whatever they may have been, could scarcely make him rich. The task of providing for the family devolved on his wife. In the year 1796, she published by subscription her third novel, Camilla. It was impatiently expected by the public; and the sum which she obtained for it was, we believe, greater than had ever at that time been received for a novel. We have heard that she cleared more than three thousand guineas. But we give this merely as a rumour. Camilla, however, never attained popularity like that which Evelina and Cecilia had enjoyed ; and it must be allowed that there was a perceptible falling off, not indeed in humour or in power of portraying character, but in grace and in purity of style.
We have heard that, about this time, a tragedy by Madame d'Arblay was performed without success. We do not know whether it was ever printed ; nor indeed have we had time to make any researches into its history or merits.
During the short truce which followed the treaty of Amiens, M. D'Arblay visited France. Lauriston and La Fayette represented his claims to the French government, and obtained a promise that he should be reinstated in his military rank. M. D'Arblay, however, insisted that he should never be required to serve against the countrymen of his wife. The First Consul, of course, would not hear of such a condition, and ordered the general's commission to be instantly revoked.
Madame D'Arblay joined her husband at Paris, a short time before the war of 1803 broke out, and remained in France ten years, cut off from almost
all intercourse with the land of her birth. At length, when Napoleon was on his march to Moscow, she with great difficulty obtained from his ministers permission to visit her own country, in company with her son, who was a native of England. She returned in time to receive the last blessing of her father, who died in his eighty-seventh year. In 1814 she published her last novel, the Wanderer, a book which no judicious friend to her memory will attempt to draw from the oblivion into which it has justly fallen. In the same year her son Alexander was sent to Cambridge. He obtained an honourable place among the wranglers of his year, and was elected a fellow of Christ's College. But his reputation at the University was higher than might be inferred from his success in academical contests. His French education had not fitted him for the examinations of the Senate House ; but, in pure mathematics, we have been assured by some of his competitors that he had very few equals. He went into the church, and it was thought likely that he would attain high eminence as a preacher ; but he died before his mother. All that we have heard of him leads us to believe that he was such a son as such a mother deserved to have. In 1832, Madame D'Arblay published the memoirs of her father ; and on the 6th of January, 1840, she died in her eighty-eighth year.
We now turn from the life of Madame D'Arblay to her writings. There can, we apprehend, be little difference of opinion as to the nature of her merit, whatever differences may exist as to its degree. She was emphatically what Johnson called her, a charactermonger. It was in the exhibition of human passions and whims that her strength lay; and in this department of art she had, we think, very distinguished skill.
But in order that we may, according to our duty as kings at arms, versed in the laws of literary precedence, marshal her to the exact seat to which she is entitled, we must carry our examination somewhat further.
There is, in one respect, a remarkable analogy between the faces and the minds of men. No two faces are alike; and yet very few faces deviate very widely from the common standard. Among the eighteen hundred thousand human beings who inhabit Londun, there is not one who could be taken by his acquaintance for another ; yet we may walk from Paddington to Mile End without seeing one person in whom any feature is so overcharged that we turn round to stare at it. An infinite number of varieties lies between limits which are not very far asunder. The specimens which pass those limits on either side, form a very small minority.
It is the same with the characters of men. Here, too, the variety passes all enumeration. But the cases in which the deviation from the common standard is striking and grotesque, are very few. In one mind avarice predominates ; in another, pride ; in a third, love of pleasure ; just as in one countenance the nose is the most marked feature, while in others the chief expression lies in the brow, or in the lines of the mouth. But there are very few countenances in which nose, brow, and mouth do not contribute, though in unequal degrees, to the general effect; and so there are very few characters in which one overgrown propensity makes all others utterly insignificant.
It is evident that a portrait painter, who was able only to represent faces and figures such as those which we pay money to see at fairs, would not, however spirited his execution might be, take rank among the highest artists. He must always be placed below those who have skill to seize peculiarities which do not amount to deformity. The slighter those peculiarities, the greater is the merit of the limner who can catch them and transfer them to his canvass. To paint Daniel Lambert or the living skeleton, the pig faced lady or the Siamese twins, so that nobody can mistake them, is an exploit within the reach of a signpainter. A third-rate artist might give us the quint of Wilkes, and the depressed nose and protuberant cheeks of Gibbon. It would require a much higher degree of skill to paint two such men as Mr Canning and Sir Thomas Lawrence, so that nobody who had ever seen them could for a moment hesitate to assign each picture to its original. Here the mere caricaturist would be quite at fault. 'He would find in neither face any thing on which he could lay hold for the purpose of making a distinc. tion. Two ample bald foreheads, two regular profiles, two full faces of the same oval form, would baffle his art ; and he would be reduced to the mis. erable shift of writing their names at the foot of his picture. Yet there was a great difference; and a person who had seen them once would no more have mistaken one of them for the other than he would have mistaken Mi Pitt for Mr Fox. But the difference lay in delicate lineaments and shades, reserved for pencils of a rare order.
This distinction runs through all the imitative arts. Foote's mimicry was exquisitely ludicrous, but it was all caricature. He could take off only some strange peculiarity, a stammer or a lisp, a Northumbrian burr or an Irish brogue, a stoop or a shuffle. “If a man,” said Johnson, “hops on one leg, Foote can hop on one leg.” Garrick, on the other hand, could seize those differences of manner and pronunciation, which, though highly characteristic, are yet too slight to be described. Foote, we have no doubt, could have made the Haymarket theatre shake with laughter by imitating a conversation between a Scotchman and a Somersetshireman. But Garrick could have imitated a conversation between two fashionable men, both models of the best breeding, Lord Chesterfield, for example, and Lord Albemarle, so that no person could doubt which was which, although no person could say that, in any point, either Lord Chesterfield cr Lord Albemarle spoke or moved otherwise than in conformity with the usages of the best society.
The same distinction is found in the drama and in fictitious narrative. Highest among those who have exhibited human nature by means of dia. logue, stands Shakspeare. His variety is like the variety of nature, endless diversity, scarcely any monstrosity. The characters of which he has given us an impression, as vivid as that which we receive from the characters of our own associates, are to be reckoned by scores. Yet in all these scores hardly one character is to be found which deviates widely from the common standard, and which we should call very eccentric if we met it in real life. The silly notion that every man has one ruling passion, and that this clue, once known, unravels all the mysteries of his conduct, finds no countenance in the plays of Shakspeare. There man appears as he is, made up of a crowd of passions, which contend for the mastery over him, and govern him in turn.
What is Hamlet's ruling passion? Or Othello's? Or Harry the Fifth's? Or Wolsey's? Or Lear's? Or Shylock's? Or Benedick's ? Or Macbeth's? Or that of Cassius? Or that of Falconbridge? But we might go on for ever. Take a single example, Shylock. Is he so eager for money as to be indifferent to revenge? Or so eager for revenge as to be indifferent to money? Or so bent on both together as to be indifferent to the honour of his nation and the law of Moses? All his propensities are mingled with each other, so that, in trying to apportion to each its proper part, we find the same difficulty which constantly meets us in real life. A superficial critic may say, that hatred is Shylock's ruling passion.
But how many pas. sions have amalgamated to form that hatred ? It is partly the result of wounded pride : Antonio has called him dog. It is partly the result of covetousness Antonio has hindered him of half a million ; and, when Antonio is gone, there will be no limit to the gains of usury. It is partly the result of national and religious feeling : Antonio has spit on the Jewish gabardine ; and the oath of revenge has been sworn by the Jewish Sabbath. We might go through all the characters which we have mentioned, and through fifty more in the same way; for it is the constant manner of Shakspeare to re
present the human mind as lying, not under the absolute dominion of one despotic propensity, but under a mixed government, in which a hundred powers balance each other. Admirable as he was in all parts of his art, we most admire him for this, that while he has left us a greater number of striking portraits than all other dramatists put together, he has scarcely left us a single caricature.
Shakspeare has had neither equal nor second. But among the writers who, in the point which we have noticed, have approached nearest to the manner of the great master, we have no hesitation in placing Jane Austen, a woman of whom England is justly proud. She has given us a multitude of characters, all, in a certain sense, commonplace, all such as we meet every day. Yet they are all as perfectly discriminated from each other as if they were the most eccentric of human beings. There are, for example, sour clergymen, none of whom we should be surprised to find in any parsonage in the kingdom, Mr Edward Ferrars, VIr 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 Sterne. Not one has a ruling passion, such as we read of in Pope. Who would not have expected them to be insipid likenesses of each other? No such thing. Harpagon is not more unlike to Jourdain, Joseph Surface is not more unlike to Sir Lucius O'Trigger, than every one of Miss Austen's young divines to all his reverend brethren. And almost all this is done by touches so deli. cate, that they elude analysis, 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
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 de. sire 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 or 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 apply. ing 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, without some allusion to the hoarding of money; or Mr Hobson, without betraying the selfindulgence and selfimportance of a purseproud 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 the vices of the rich and the misery of the poor; or Mrs Belfield, without some indelicate eulogy on her son; or Lady Margaret, without indicating jealousy of her husband. Morrice is all skipping, ofticious impertinence, Mr Gosport all sarcasm, Lady
Honoria all lively prattle, Miss Larolles all silly prattie. If ever Madame D'Arbiay aimed at more, we do not think that she succeeded well.
We are, therefore, forced to refuse to 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. Fler plots are rudely constructed and improbable, if we consider them in themselves. But they are admirably framed for the purpose of exhibiting 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 oddities of all the rest. We will give one example out of many which occur to us. All probability is violated in order to bring Mr Delvile, 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 judgment, less from those ambitious scenes of distress 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 examples, 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 during the earlier half of her life, and that every thing which she published during the forty-three 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.
When she wrote her letters to Mr Crisp, her early journals, and her first novel, her style was not indeed brilliant or energetic ; but it was easy, clear, and free from all offensive faults. When she wrote Cecilia she aimed 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