Saturday, April 19, 2008

long expectation

Miss F. Burney to Mrs. Phillips.

St. Martin's Street
February 25, 1782.

re you quite enraged with me, my dearest Susy ? Indeed, I think I am with myself, for not sooner and oftener writing to you; and every night when I go to bed, and every morning when I wake, I determine shall be the last I will do either again till I have written to you. But helas! my pens get so fagged, and my hands so crippled, when I have been up two or three hours, that my resolution wavers, and I sin on, till the time of rest and meditation, and then I repent again. Forgive me, however, my dearest girl, and pray pay me not in kind; for, as Charlotte would say, kind that would not be, however deserved and just.

My work* is too long in all conscience for the hurry of my people to have it produced. I have a thousand million of fears for it. The mere copying, without revising and correcting, would take at least ten weeks, for I cannot do more than a volume in a fortnight, unless I scrawl short hand and rough hand as badly as the original. Yet my dear father thinks it will be published in a month! Since you went I have copied one volume and a quarter no more! 'Oh, I am sick to think of it! Yet not a little reviving is my father's very high approbation of the first volume, which is all he has seen. I totally forget whether, in my last, I told you I had presented it to him? but I am sure you would never forget, for the pleasure you would have felt for me, had you seen or heard him reading any part of it. Would you ever believe, bigoted as he was to "Evelina," that he now says he thinks this a superior design and superior execution? You can never half imagine the delight this has given me. It is answering my first wish and first ambition in life. And though I am certain, and though he thinks himself, it will never be so popular as "Evelina," his so warm satisfaction will make me amends for almost any mortification that may be in store for me.

One thing frets me a good deal, which is, that my book affair has got wind, and seems almost everywhere known, notwithstanding my earnestness and caution to have it kept snug till the last. Mr. Barry, t'other day, told me he had heard from Miss Mudge what, &c., &c., he had soon to expect from me. The Hooles have both told Charlotte how glad they are in the good news they hear; and Mrs. Boyle and the strangers take it for granted, they say, that I am too busy for visiting! Mrs. Ord, also, attacked me very openly about it, and I have seen nobody else. It is easy to guess whence this comes, but not easy to stop its course, or to prevent the mischief of long expectation, any more than the great disagreement of being continually interrogated upon the subject. I thank you most heartily for your two sweet letters, my ever dearest Susy, and equally for the kindness they contain and the kindness they accept. . . . .

*Her novel "Cecilia."

[Scarlatti - Sonata No. 15 in D minor]

-from The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Madame D'Arblay. revised and edited by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey in 2 volumes (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), vol. 1.

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