Letter to Miss Robinson, August 15th, 1783

Edgeworth’s Town – August 15th. I am the more obliged to you my dear Miss Robinson for your kind letter, as I believe according to all Etiquette, ancient & modern / though I am not well versed in either / that is was my duty to have prevented you; indeed I am ashamed... - But let the past speak for itself, and I will speak for the future ------ So, there have been wonderful revolutions in Wimpole Street; the rebel Angel “is fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen”, Fallen from the blest abodes” --- But seriously how does poor Mrs. Devis, Miss Morison, & Miss E Devis do? All s-. s-. s-w I hope -- This present day, being Tuesday the Nineteenth / though to spare myself the labor of looking into my Almanach I dated my letter the 15th. / is one of the hottest we have had this Summer, but I defy the Sun & all its wicked Works for, I am seated in a shady arbor, on the Stump of an old Tree, with my desk upon my knees, the Sun Shining {1} upon every Object around me, but not daring or not deigning to shine upon me: Do not you envy me? or if you are as happy don’t you sympathise with me? – But perhaps you are insensible to the heat -- I am sure you must be if you could sit baking in a play house, to see Mrs. Siddons It is the utmost I would do to see Miss Burney for I am not, as you seem to be, Siddons mad, having only seen a likeness of her in a Review, which fortunately did not infect me – You are acquainted with Miss Burney pray tell me all you know of her, -- and more – I read <her Book>, Evelina over twice, once with the malicious view of discovering its faults but alas before I had read it half through I forgot my intention, <xxxxx 5-8 words> ------ Lord Orville is a man after my own heart – his character did not want a title to give it dignity; that is saying a great deal for the Hero, but when I say that the Heroine thought so too, perhaps I say still more for her – it was the character of Man & not the Lord she loved - Why then did Miss Burney give him a title? was it to recommend him to titled Readers? If so she did either their Taste, or her Book, great Injustice - And, (if I may be so bold to say it) her young female Plebeian {2} admirers some Injury – for I cannot help thinking that raising their hopes & Expectations above, what in the ordinary course of things they are likely to attain, is doing them an injury – It is preparing for them Disappointment & Ennui at least - Evelina had no title & but small Fortune, but she married an Earl! – Will no conclusions be drawn from this? will no hopes be raised? Can an improbable event be brought about by probable means, without lessening our Opinion of its probability? – Even connecting the idea of every thing that is amiable in a Husband with the ideas of a Lord & a Coronet is, I should think, hurtful – But perhaps Miss Burney had reasons to counterbalance these which have not occurred to me ---- As for the Book you are so kind to enquire about Alas it was only an humble, and I am sorry to add an unsuccessful translation of – Madame de Genlis Letters – I had just finished the third Volume, when a rival translation appeared in all its Glory – One volume however is printed & my father thinks of compressing the two others into one & publishing it in Dublin – But I believe I ought to say nothing more to you about it, as Lady Robinson objects to your reading it; for your consolation however, know, that I am under a similar prohibition with regard to Cecilia – which {3} of us has most curiosity & which Book deserves it best we can neither of us decide; having each read but one – To be sure if I might judge from Miss Burney’s Evelina I should think….. But you may say the same of Madame de Genlis’s Theátre – so that I cannot even have the Satisfaction of claiming “Preeminence in Disappointment” <xxxxx 2/3 page> {4} Now we are talking of Théatre’s did you ever <meet> with Mercier’s? I am sure you would be very much pleased with it – Poor Man! in some of his Works he has taken a liberty which is allowed only to British Subjects, that of finding fault with Government and he has suffered for it <severely> for it is said that he is in the Bastille --- A French Author’s pen I should think could not run very freely while he had a <lèttre> de cachèt hanging over his Head - Pray have you ever read Boccace? – In Dryden’s fable’s there are two very elegant little Poems from Boccace; I wish you could be so good to look over them, if you do not recollect them & send me word whether they are translations or Imitations: for my father has not Boccace, nor am I likely to meet with it Theodore and Honoria – and – Cimon & Iphigenia are their Titles – What easy sprightly letters Grey’s are published by Mason! I daresay you have seen them – they are not the stiff performances of an Author, written under the rod of Criticism and under the <Pressentiment> that they would be published as Author’s letters usually are – All that I have ever seen of Pope’s gave me that idea; the Style is too correct to be free & the Wit is too labored to be pleasing – Don’t you think so? – You hear I am asking you trifling questions across the British Channel with as little Ceremony as if you were in the same Room with me – I hope you will transport me, (or at least my {5} Ideas, in return to Cranford; Aye and keep them there too for a good Quarter of an hour - NB) (I allow a Quarter of an hour to read four Pages –) If I should meet Miss Burney there, I should be compleately happy – if you can find any means of procuring for me the honor of her Corespondance you will do me a particular favor – You will wonder that I, who am not apt to enter into Corespondancies shd. be so very eager about a Lady’s whom I have never seen ---- Why to tell you the truth if there is any faith to be given to Pope’s prophecy “Those best shall paint it who shall feel it most” if there be any resemblance between her own character & her amiable Evelina’s, I should not only be desirous but ambitious of her friendship – I expect everything but impossibilities from your Activity and Friendship, indeed I am afraid you will think I expect even those - You are very good to remember a trifling Request I made you a twelvemonth ago about a plan of Cranford; If your drawing does not discourage me I will endeavor to make a Sketch of Edgeworth’s Town for you - Give my love and a kiss to Miss Penelope I do not know whether it was her own Eyes, or her being your Sister which prepossessed me in her favor – You may each of you attribute it to which Cause you please, for I am sure they both had their Effect -- I am ashamed to say that I had almost forgotten to thank you for the very pretty copy of verses you sent me – The ideas I think are {6} very poetical, the Rhymes sometimes cramp them – the knack of Rhyming however may be readily acquired by practice; poetical genius never can – Any present of that kind you send me will always be particularly agreeable to me --- Oh I must not forget to beg you will thank Miss Hartley for remembering me – But, entre nous, I confess I had rather hear it from you than from her, for I have no rage for spinning a letter out of nothing every three weeks by way of helping up a correspondance with a person whom I shall probably never see, nay perhaps, never particularly wish <to> see during the whole course of my life – So don’t hurry yourself to send her my direction, by way of doing me a favor, as if she should write to me I am in in politeness bound to write again - Do you ever hear from Miss Cave? I hope she is very well – I suppose by this time a friend of our’s has left off writing to “beg you’ll excuse a short letter” – Don’t forget Miss Burney and beleive me to be My dear Miss Robinson, Yours Affectionately Maria Edgeworth -- I beg my best Respects to Lady Robinson – though I have not the honor of being known either to her Ladyship or the rest of your family I take the liberty of enquiring after then & hope for your sake that they are all well – however I claim acquaintance with your Sister, if she will give me leave & should <be> very happy to receive as many lines from her as you can leave room for in your letters - {7} To Miss Robinson Cranford free Peterborough Kettering