Cecilia: Memoirs of an Heiress HTML version
The present edition is reprinted from:—
CECILIA, or, Memoirs of an Heiress. By the author of Evelina. In five volumes.
London: Printed for T. Payne and Son, at the Newsgate, and T. Cadell in the Strand.
MDCCLXXXII. R. B. J.
THE RIGHT HON. EDMUND BURKE TO MISS F. BURNEY. (AFTER READING
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 th roughout that
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,
WHITEHALL, July 19, 1782.
My best compliments and congratulations to Dr Burney on the great honour
acquired to his family.
The indulgence shewn by the Public to Evelina, which, unpatronized, unaided, and
unowned, past through Four Editions in one Year, has encouraged its Author to risk
this SECOND attempt. The animation of success is too universa lly acknowledged, to
make the writer of the following sheets dread much censure of temerity; though the
precariousness of any power to give pleasure, suppresses all vanity of confidence,
and sends CECILIA into the world with scarce more hope, though far mo re
encouragement, than attended her highly-honoured predecessor, Evelina.