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Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.
Bookham, Friday, October, 1796. How well I know and feel the pang of this cruel day to my beloved father! My heart seems visiting him almost every minute in grief and participation ; yet I was happy to see it open with a smiling aspect, and encourage a superstition of hoping it portentous of a good conclusion.
I am almost afraid to ask how my poor mother bore the last farewell. Indeed, I hope she was virtuously cheated of a leave-taking. I advised Susan to avoid it if possible, as the parting impression would be lighter by such management; and, much as she is recovered from her very terrible state, she cannot be too cautious of emotions of almost any sort, much less of such a separation. Our sorrow, however, here, has been very considerably diminished by the major's voluntary promises to Mrs. Lock of certain and speedy return. I shall expect him at the peace—not before. I cannot think it possible he should appear here during the war, except, as now, merely to fetch his family.
But I meant to have begun with our thanks for my dear kind father's indulgence of our extreme curiosity and interest in the sight of the reviews. I am quite happy in what I have escaped of greater severity, though my mate cannot bear that the palm should be contested by. Evelina' and · Cecilia ;' his partiality rates the last as so much the highest; so does the newspaper I have mentioned, of which I long to send you a copy. But those immense men, whose single praise was fame and security—who established, by a word, the two elder sisters are now silent. Dr. Johnson and Sir Joshua are no more, and Mr. Burke is ill, or otherwise engrossed; yet, even without their powerful influence, to which I
owe such unspeakable obligation, the essential success of Camilla' exceeds that of the elders. The sale is truly astonishing. Charles has just sent to me that five hundred only remain of four thousand, and it has appeared scarcely three months.
The first edition of • Evelina' was of eight hundred, the second of five hundred, and the third of a thousand. What the following have been I have never heard. The sale from that period became more flourishing than the publisher cared to announce. Of Cecilia' the first edition was reckoned enormous at two thousand; and as a part of payment was reserved for it, I remember our dear Daddy Crisp thought it very unfair. It was printed, like this, in July, and sold in October, to every one's wonder. Here, however, the sale is increased in rapidity more than a third. Charles says,
“ Now heed no more what critics thought 'em,
Since this you know, all people bought 'em.” We have resumed our original plan, and are going immediately to build a little cottage for ourselves. We shall make it as small and as cheap as will accord with its being warm and comfortable. We have relinquished, however, the very kind offer of Mr. Lock, which he has renewed, for his park. We mean to make this a property saleable or letable for our Alex, and in Mr. Lock's park we could not encroach any tenant, if the youth's circumstances, profession, or inclination should make him not choose the spot for his own residence. M. d'Arblay, therefore, has fixed upon a field of Mr. Lock's, which he will rent, and of which Mr. Lock will grant him a lease of ninety years.
By this means, we shall leave the little Alex a little property, besides what will be in the funds, and a property likely to rise in value, as the situation of the field is remarkably beautiful. It is in the
valley, between Mr. Lock's park and Dorking, and where land is so scarce, that there is not another possessor within many miles who would part, upon any terms, with half an acre. My kindest father will come and give it, I trust, his benediction. I am now almost jealous of Bookham for having received it.
Imagine but the extacy of M. d'Arblay in training, all his own way, an entire new garden.
He dreams now of cabbage-walks, potato-beds, bean-perfumes, and peasblossoms. My mother should send him a little sketch to help his flower-garden, which will be his second favourite object.
Alex. has made no progress in phrases, but pronounces single words a few more. Adieu, most dear Sir.
Madame d'Arblay to Mrs. Lock.
You are too good, my dearest friend, almost literally too good; which, you know, like all extremes, is naught.
My mate wants to send you a daisy, but says he will carry it. What can I send you ? Only what you have got already, which is very Irish, for I have but my old heart, with not one new thing in it for you these many years.
I have had this morning a letter that has quite melted me with grateful sensations, written by command. I will show it you when these eternal rains will take a little rest.
A private letter from Windsor tells me the Prince of Wurtemberg has much pleased in the Royal House, by his manners and address upon his interview, but that the poor Princess Royal was almost dead with terror, and agitation, and affright, at the first meeting. She could
not utter a word. The Queen was obliged to speak her
The Prince said he hoped this first would be the last disturbance his presence would ever occasion her. She then tried to recover, and so far conquered her tumult as to attempt joining in a general discourse from time to time. He paid his court successfully, I am told, to the sisters, who all determine to like him; and the Princess Royal is quite revived in her spirits again, now this tremendous opening sight is over.
You will be pleased, and my dearest Mr. Lock, at the style of my summons : 'tis so openly from the Queen herself. Indeed, she has behaved like an angel to me, from the trying time to her of my marriage with a Frenchman. “So odd, you know," as Lady Inchiquin said,
Dr. Burney to Madame d'Arblay.
Wednesday night, November, 1796. MY DEAR FANNY,-I must thank you for your prompt letter and · Babiniana,' though I am too tired and languid to say much. I have been writing melancholy heartrending letters this day or two, which have oppressed me sadly; yet I am still more heartless and miserable in doing nothing. The author of the poem on the spleen, says, “ Fling but a stone, the giant dies ;” but such stones as I have to fling will not do the business.
James and Charles dined here, and kept the monster at a little distance, but he was here again the moment they were gone. I try to read, and pronounce the words “ without understanding one of them,” as Johuson said in reading my dissertation on the music of the ancients.
The Monthly Review' has come in to-day, and it
does not satisfy me, or raise my spirits, or anything but my indignation. James has read the remarks in it on
Camilla,' and we are all dissatisfied. Perhaps a few of the verbal criticisms may be worth your attention in the second edition; but these have been picked out and displayed with no friendly view, and without necessity, in a work of such length and intrinsic sterling worth. J'enrage! Morbleu !
I thought when I began that I should not be able to write three lines, but this subject has been both a whip and a spur to me. God bless you, my dear Fanny! Pray, always remember me kindly and cordially to our dear chevalier, and talk of me at least to the cherub. I want some employment that will interest me like my canons during the rheumatism, and make me forget myself and my sorrows; but I have not yet found such an opiate. Once more, God bless you, my ever dear Fanny!
Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.
Bookham, November, 1796. I HAD intended writing to my dearest father by a return of goods, but I find it impossible to defer the overflowings of my heart at his most kind and generous indignation with the Reviewer. What censure can ever so much hurt as such compensation can heal ? And, in fact, the praise is so strong that, were it neatly put together, the writer might challenge my best enthusiasts to find it insufficient. The truth, however, is, that the criticisms come forward, and the panegyric is entangled, and so blended with blame as to lose almost all effect.
The Reviews, however, as they have not made, will not, I trust, mar me. Evelina' made its way all by