Cecilia, by Fanny Burney

The Right Hon. Edmund Burke to Miss F. Burney. (After Reading Cecilia.)

Madam — I should feel exceedingly to blame if I could refuse to myself the natural satisfaction, and to you the just but poor return, of my best thanks for the very great instruction and entertainment I have received from the new present you have bestowed on the public. There are few — I believe I may say fairly there are none at all — that will not find themselves better informed concerning human nature, and their stock of observation enriched, by reading your “Cecilia.” They certainly will, let their experience in life and manners be what it may. The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth. You have crowded into a few small volumes an incredible variety of characters; most of them well planned, well supported, and well contrasted with each other. If there be any fault in this respect, it is one in which you are in no great danger of being imitated. Justly as your characters are drawn, perhaps they are too numerous. But I beg pardon; I fear it is quite in vain to preach economy to those who are come young to excessive and sudden opulence.

I might trespass on your delicacy if I should fill my letter to you with what I fill my conversation to others. I should be troublesome to you alone if I should tell you all I feel and think on the natural vein of humour, the tender pathetic, the comprehensive and noble moral, and the sagacious observation, that appear quite throughout that extraordinary performance.

In an age distinguished by producing extraordinary women, I hardly dare to tell you where my opinion would place you amongst them. I respect your modesty, that will not endure the commendations which your merit forces from everybody.

I have the honour to be, with great gratitude, respect, and esteem, madam, your most obedient and most humble servant,

EDM. BURKE

WHITEHALL, July 19, 1782.

My best compliments and congratulations to Dr Burney on the great honour acquired to his family.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burney/fanny/cecilia/preface2.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:32