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An investigation into the character of Fanny Burney

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falling off in the works of Fanny Burney. Her later works are either condemned as tedious and deplorable or they are simply ignored. In a modern critical essay, such as that of Edith J. Morley \ Camilla is hardly mentioned at all while no notice whatever has been taken of The Wanderer or the Memoirs of Dr. Burney. There is no doubt a falling off, but it is mainly in style. Macaulay* compares Madame d'Arblay's style at different periods of her life and the change for the worse is only too obvious. Evelina is simple in style, and it is fresh and natural. In Cecilia Miss Burney aimed higher. She had lived in the Streatham circle and though Macaulay is wrong in saying that Johnson polished and corrected Cecilia, its style betrays Johnson's strong influence. On comparing this novel with Camilla we find again a great change. Though it is a matter of taste as to whether one prefers the natural, simple style of Evelina or the more polished and dignified one of Cecilia, there can be no doubt that the change in Camilla is for the worse. It has a certain pomposity, which, especially to the modern reader, does not make the book pleasant reading. There was a period of fourteen years between the publication of Cecilia and that of Camilla. Great changes had taken place in Fanny's life. There was no longer the influence of the Streatham circle; she had devoted very little time to literary work and she was not a great reader. It is astonishing how, at the height of her fame, she was unacquainted with the works of many famous authors. She took no trouble to improve her style or to keep up her reputation. Her marriage with a Frenchman cannot have had a good influence on her style either, but that which, more than all these reasons, seems to account for this unfortunate change, is, as Austin Dobson says', that she had been writing her

1 Fanny Burney, by Edith J. Morley, Engl. Ass. pamphlet 60, 1925.

* Edinburgh Review, Jan. 1843.

* Austin Dobson: Fanny Burney, English Men of Letters, 1904.