“Let me counsel you to remember that a lady, whether so called from birth or only from fortune, should never degrade herself by being put on a level with writers, and such sort of people.”
miser Mr. Briggs, Cecilia’s guardian, who refuses to give her any of her own money to pay the bookseller
Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, volume 2, book 3, chapter 2
"It is always best to do right, however tardily; always better to repent, than to grow callous in wrong."
Cecilia (who is a little too good, imho)
Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, volume 4, book 8, chapter 1
"The world is full of mortifications, and to endure, or to sink under them, makes all the distinction between the noble or the weak-minded."
the elegant Mrs. Delvile to Cecilia; Mrs. Delvile knows Cecilia is enduring the mortification of having to give up her affection for her son, Mortimer Delvile
Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, volume 3, book 6, chapter 11
“Mrs. Harrel, with much simplicity, assured her that she did nothing but what every body else did, and that it was quite impossible for her to appear in the world in any other manner.”
Cecilia’s friend Mrs. Harrel and her husband are spending their way into misery (and worse) keeping up with fashionable London society. This is her defense when Cecilia admonishes her to retrench.
Cecilia, volume 2, book 3, chapter 3
This week we’ll be taking a slight diversion from Austen to look at one of the books that inspired her — Fanny Burney’s Cecilia. This is a book Austen loved, and she snagged the title for Pride and Prejudice from one of its pages. I’m immersed in it now, and loving it (although I agree with Burney herself that it could have used one more edit).
Cecilia is a nearly-perfect heiress, whose near relations have all passed away. But she can only keep her fortune if the man she marries agrees to take her name. And young Delvile, whom she adores, has a difficult time conquering his family pride, his name being the one barrier to their happy union. (Though perhaps I’m giving away too much.)
Today, here’s a bit from the spiteful old Lady Margaret, whose husband hopes she will die soon so he can propose to Cecilia:
“I never saw any thing eligible come of young women’s having houses of their own; she will do a much better thing to marry, and have some proper person to take care of her.”
Cecilia, volume 4, book 7, chapter 1
Frances d’Arblay (‘Fanny Burney’) by Edward Francesco Burney
© National Portrait Gallery, London.