'Our Present Race of Young Men': Frances Burney's Bad Boys

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'Our Present Race of Young Men': Frances Burney's Bad Boys
KANE, RACHAEL ( Author, Primary )
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Copyright 2005 by Rachael Kane


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Brian McCrea for introducing me to Frances Burney, and I also thank him for providing guidance, support, and suggestions as well as for reading multiple drafts and revisions as I developed my thesis. I also thank Dr. Patricia Craddock, whose critique and suggestions helped me regain perspective when I lost it. I would also like to thank Sam, who has supported me beyond what any person would or should be expected to do. Writing a master’s thesis is one thing, but being the spouse of a graduate student who is writing one requires courage and fortitude. And I thank him for always encouraging me to pursue my goals, even when doing so means disrupting his. iii


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................iii ABSTRACT .........................................................................................................................v CHAPTER 1 FRANCES BURNEY AND THE “NEW MAN”........................................................1 2 CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: CON ARTISTS AND PATERNAL MISCREANTS.........7 3 MATRIMONIAL MALFEASANCE: FORTUNE HUNTERS.................................27 4 DOMESTIC MALEVOLENCE: BURNEY’S HOUSEHOLD BAD BOYS...........37 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................48 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................51 iv


Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts “OUR PRESENT RACE OF YOUNG MEN”: FRANCES BURNEY’S BAD BOYS By Rachael Kane May 2005 Chair: Brian McCrea Major Department: English Frances Burney was restored to her rightful place as a major eighteenth century writer during the 1980’s; however her place as a writer responding to social and economic changes has not been adequately secured. Burney’s works have long been considered novels of manners or “courtesy novels.” Criticism of Burney’s works focuses on key themes, such as the patriarchal structure, marriage, and social behavior. In examining these themes, critics tend to find the male heroes of Burney’s fiction weak and unsatisfactory and the paternal figures impotent or inept. However this criticism does not adequately identify the criminal element or criminal characters in Burney’s three earlier novels, Evelina, Camilla, and Cecilia. The criminal activity is key to our understanding of Burney’s apprehensions about the changes in the society and changes in the economy. The criminals are frequently overlooked by critics in favor of Burney’s heroes, sentimental men who are outnumbered by the unreformed and often rakish band of bad boys. Their criminal behavior can be linked to the changing economic system, the weakened patriarchal structure, and the shifting social order of eighteenth-century v


England. Burney illustrates different versions of patriarchy’s weakness through the presence and absence of paternal miscreants in Evelina. In her second novel, Camilla, Burney exposes the new and easily abused system of paper credit and how it weaked the patriarchal structure further and made social distinctions less discernible. Additionally, in Camilla and Cecilia, Burney explores the merging of finance and romance in the fortune hunter figure and in the pimps who lurk in the domestic sphere. With these bad boys, Burney is not illustrating the safety of the domestic in comparison to the economic/public, as critics have suggested; instead she is illustrating how dangerous it is both outside and inside the domestic sphere. vi


CHAPTER 1 FRANCES BURNEY AND THE “NEW MAN” Whose table, Wit, or modest Merit share, Un-elbow’d by a Gamester, Pimp, or Play’r? Alexander Pope Epistle III: To Bathhurst Frances Burney’s novels and journals give us tremendous insight into the world she lived in. Her work also gives us insight into the precariousness of that world. Pope, along with other writers and artists of the first half of the century, “helped define a hostile world in which city, court, and commerce had come together to destroy the moral foundations of the governing order” (Langford 125). Burney continued this tradition in her own writing, transmitting and defining the hostile world created by the changes in the cultural and fiscal marketplaces. Although popular in her time, Burney was relegated to the position of a minor eighteenth-century author until renewed interest in the 1980’s and 1990’s. And yet despite Burney being restored to her rightful place as a major eighteenth century writer, her place as a writer responding to social and economic changes has not been adequately secured. In 1903, Austin Dobson categorized Evelina as a work which “carries the novel of manners into domestic life, and prepares the way for Miss Edgeworth and the exquisite parlour-pieces of Miss Austen” (204). Chauncey Tinker’s introduction to Dr. Johnson & Fanny Burney continued the categorization—Burney is both “the timorous maiden” and the “keen-sighted observer of manners” (x). By 1958 the taxonomy was slightly modified by Joyce Hemlow when describing Camilla: “A hybrid produced by modifications or variations of the courtesy-book and the novel of manners, to which 1


2 Fanny had already made significant contributions, Camilla may be described as a courtesy-novel” (249). The renewed interest in Burney has resulted in readings which seem to take Burney’s work beyond this “novel of manners/courtesy” classification. Julia Epstein’s The Iron Pen examines Burney’s overt and covert anger. The recognition of Burney’s anger rescues her from the “timorous maiden” moniker and relocates the source of Burney’s satiric fount. Kristina Straub finds in Burney’s work conflict and contradictions, especially as the novels describe social institutions such as marriage. Other contemporary analyses of Burney include focus on Burney and economics; James Thompson and Julie Schaffer have examined the relationship between Burney’s female protagonists and finance and Claudia Johnson’s Equivocal Beings deals with the sensibility economy. While appearing to free Burney from the limiting manners/courtesy genre, this recent criticism is still haunted by its specter: “Although Burney is now typically read as a satirist of propriety, contemporary reviewers, to say nothing of a number of distinguished scholars of our own century, read Camilla as a contribution to conduct literature, and their view is not completely wrong” (Johnson 164). This critical stance places Burney back into the box of courtesy. More importantly, contemporary critics may not always fully identify the root of Burney’s anger or the structures causing the conflicts. Burney’s novels reflect a society in which the traditional hierarchical and financial structures and new modes of wealth and status collide. The end result of this collision is confusion, danger, and an extremely complicated and lengthy narrative. The role socio-economics plays in Burney’s novels is more complicated and has further implications than critics suggest. Criticism which discusses economic forces neglects the


3 resulting and economically driven malfeasance present in Burney’s works. This malfeasance is the direct cause behind the misunderstandings which make the narratives so long and difficult. The narratives in Camilla and Cecilia in particular are complicated by a criminal at every turn. Likewise, the origin of Burney’s anger is misidentified. Burney is not angry at the system of patriarchy or social institutions, such as marriage, but rather at the demise of traditional patriarchy and traditional economy. Recently scholars and critics have focused their studies on the reformation of male manners. G.J. Barker-Benfield’s The Culture of Sensibility in particular has helped identify the origins of sensibility as well as the issues and ideologies that turned a cult of sensibility into a culture of sensibility. Interpretations of sensibility vary but to the ordinary Englishman of the period it meant to “feel strongly,” to have a sense of right and wrong, and in most matters to have a sense of “morality and taste” (Langford 463). In many respects this “new man” was a reformed version of the Restoration male. Charles II’s restoration to the throne in 1660 also restored the interest in leisure and pleasurable diversions. Charles II’s “merry gang” and a host of upper class males engaged in rather rakish and licentious behavior: public nudity, pranks, assaults on females, assaults on bystanders, breaking and entering, whoring, uncontrolled consumerism, gambling, and drunkenness. Debauchery was also a popular elective for university students. Oxford and Cambridge Universities attempted to reform student behavior in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; however these attempts failed well into the eighteenth (Barker-Benfield 40-41, 45-47). The culture of sensibility thrived during the eighteenth-century, but the spirit of the Restoration male lived on. In a sense there were two different types of “new man”: the


4 reformed and the unreformed. Some men may have reformed, but leisure and luxury, pleasure and pleasurable pursuits were appealing recreations. Langford describes this as an “atmosphere of contradiction,” which came out of “a peculiar combination of heightened sensibility with vulgar materialism” (567). The emerging social clubs gave men the opportunity to engage in rakish behavior with like-minded men. These clubs, which took the place of the coffee houses and taverns, were often dedicated to rakish pursuits like gaming and drinking. Known as “bucks and bloods,” members of certain clubs replaced the violent, roving bands of Mohocks, but replicated Mohock behavior (Roberts 50, 56). The economy had a hand in the perpetuation of merry gansterism, just as it did with male reformation. Leisure and pleasure, once solely the realm of the aristocracy, were accessible to more people. The desire for leisure and the trappings of wealth combined with the development of a credit system were often the causes behind both debauchery and debt. Consumerism and truly conspicuous consumption were easier to do with extensions of credit from tradesmen. Gaming was another activity that often led to large debts. Young upper class men had been losing their patrimony at gaming houses for years, including an apparent 15,000 lost in one evening at the gaming table in 1770. John Damer, son of Lord Milton, owed 70,000 in gambling debts and, when his father refused to pay the debt, committed suicide (Langford 574). As the author of the 1726 treatise The Whole Art and Mystery of Modern Gaming noted, “no Vice has been more fashionable than Gaming” (2). Because it continued to be a fashionable pastime associated with people of quality, gaming debts did not remain the privilege of the


5 privileged class; young middle class men also got into trouble at the tables (Langford 574). The Burney household contained its share of bad boys. In 1777 at Cambridge University, the young Charles Burney was caught with books he had stolen from the University Library (Hemlow 72). Charles was expelled from Cambridge, and was also banished from the Burney home for a time. Dr. Burney was initially angry enough to suggest Charles change his name and move to abroad. However expulsion from Cambridge and exile in Scotland did not make Charles change his ways. In 1781 Charles was again deep in debt and was refused ordination (Hemlow 144). Hemlow has asserted that Charles Burney’s debt and “levity” provided a model for Lionel Tyrold in Camilla (76). Burney’s brother James, who had been on Captain Cook’s expeditions, left his wife and children and eloped with his half sister Sarah Burney. Burney’s brothers in law were also less than ideal. Molesworth Phillips, Susanna’s husband, was frequently arrested for debt (Hemlow 276, 291). Burney’s two step sisters, Maria and Elizabeth Allen, both eloped with disastrous results, marrying ill natured and tyrannical men. The Burney male protagonist, the man of feeling, has been branded as an “unsatisfactory” hero. In her introduction to The Wanderer, Margaret Ann Doody denounces the hero of the novel as the last in a long line of unsatisfactory heroes: “[Harleigh] is the last and least attractive of a series of Burney heroes, beginning with Lord Orville (who at least had some semblance of dash []), progressing through Mortimer Delville, the spoiled and depressed heir [], to Edgar Mandlebert, the self-diffident and obsessively jealous orphan youth who causes so much misery to the heroine of Camilla” (xxiii). Straub categorizes Burney’s heroes as inept and incapacitated (210).


6 These heroes are cited for their lack of understanding, surveillance tactics, and general non-conformity to how the hero of a love story should behave. In criticizing Harleigh, Doody asserts, “He does not satisfy our ideas of the ‘hero’ of a love story—who ought to be handsome, dashing, strong, and courageous, if a trifle self-willed” (xxiii). But Burney did not write traditional love stories. She wrote novels in which the traditional pattern of “courtship leading to marriage” is traversed, thwarted, and complicated by malefactors and malfeasance (Watt 149). 1 These unsatisfactory, sensible heroes account for only a small number of men in Burney’s novels. The reformed “new man” is barely represented in comparison to the unreformed “new man.” In Burney’s novels, the dislocations in the social and economic structures of the eighteenth-century create a breeding ground for criminals. Burney’s “new men” are more often than not unreformed and unfeeling. They are driven by economic gain. The “present race of young men” so present in Burney’s novels are bad boys, rogues created by both the failure of the patriarchal system and the new economy. Con artists, fortune hunters, and pimps show up throughout works like Camilla and Cecelia. Paternal miscreants create dangerous situations in Evelina. Through a fuller examination of these bad boys a better understanding of Burney’s apprehensions about economics and society may be reached. 1 Evelina and Camilla end with weddings, however the action that occurs prior may be better described as “courtship frequently interrupted.” Cecilia does not conclude with marriage, the post nuptial action continues for over one hundred pages and includes a duel, disinheritance, and temporary insanity.


CHAPTER 2 CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: CON ARTISTS AND PATERNAL MISCREANTS Blest paper credit! last and best supply! That lends Corruption lighter wings to fly! Alexander Pope Epistle III: To Bathhurst Burney’s female protagonists encounter a multiplicity of antagonists and antagonistic forces. In Evelina, the paternal miscreant, the “bad dad,” is the origin of Evelina’s difficulties. This paternal miscreant is at once a result of the failure of patriarchal system and the perpetuator of its failure. In Camilla, Burney uses the con artist and debt to explore the dangers the new economy posed. Paper credit is problematic for Camilla and her family, but so too is the ability to assume social status with clothing. The new economy creates con artists and patriarchy is powerless to stop them. In criticism of Burney’s novels the male heroes and the paternal figures as are often noted for their impotence or ineptness. This impotence has been linked to the failing patriarchal system: The failure of Burney’s heroes, after Evelina’s Lord Orville, to understand and reward the worth of the Burney heroine is the most obvious manifestation of male incapacity in her fiction; from Delvile to Harleigh, the doubts, uncertainties, and weaknesses of the male role in Burney’s romance plots suggest a structural weakness within the system that relegates female happiness to male protection. Men, in Burney’s fiction, simply have far more power over women than they know how to handle adequately. (Straub 210) I would argue instead that the rakish or criminal characters in Burney’s novels are the “most obvious manifestation” of the troubled system. The heroes may have “emotional power” over the heroines, but they do not hold actual or familial power. Additionally, the 7


8 female difficulties the heroines face are generally not caused by patriarchy, but by its inability to protect the heroines, or, as in the case of Evelina, the difficulties are caused by the active, potent, paternal criminal element. In Evelina, what emerges from the impaired patriarchal system are impaired patriarchs—bad dads. And quite a few of these men are not just impotent fathers, but paternal miscreants. Straub continues, “Aside from the ineptitude of Burney’s romantic male leads, fathers or father figures are distant, like Villars, deceived, like Sir John Belmont; foolish, like Mr. Delvile; or lacking in understanding or information, like Tyrold. Flawed male lovers and fathers provide the problematic context of male power and male impotence in which Burney’s heroines attempt to act, to arrange their lives” (210). This line of criticism holds that the female character is oppressed by patriarchy, but that patriarchy is impaired. Burney’s heroines struggle to act, to arrange their lives, but the struggle is not caused by the paternal/patriarchal figure oppressing the heroine while being impotent at the same time, but rather by the impotent patriarchal figure not protecting the heroine from dangerous external forces, or worse by the impotent patriarch creating dangerous internal (domestic) forces. In Impotent Fathers, McCrea argued that the impotence of patriarchy is problematic: “Burney [offers . . .] patriarchs who are absent, impaired, or dead. This weakened patriarch creates difficulties for female characters, but difficulties that have less to do with oppression than with the uncertainty created in families by the absence of a commanding father” (28). McCrea rightly points out that it is not the presence of patriarchy but its absence which creates the tension and chaos in novels like Evelina (26).


9 The virtual presence of a paternal miscreant is also problematic for Evelina. Sir John Belmont, Evelina’s biological father, is absent for most of the novel, and yet his presence, the essence of his “bad dadness,” contaminates her narrative. Belmont, as the representative of the traditional system, is figuratively impotent, and this in turn creates more impotence. Evelina’s adopted father Villars cannot be a potent father because Belmont is a profligate father. Epstein argues, “[Villars] fails to provide her with the first gift of an avowed father: legitimacy. Villars claims her as his property to “bestow” without being able to install her in the patriarchal family system such a bestowal demands and presupposes” (104). Villars has given her a name (albeit not a legitimate one), raised her, educated her, and had planned (as his letter indicates) to “bestow” her to a “worthy” husband, in the hopes she may live “untainted by vice, folly, or ambition” (127-128). Villars cannot make Evelina legitimate, only Belmont can do that. Impairment in the biological father creates, by extension, the impotence in the foster father. What Villars does is try to keep Evelina clear of “vice, folly, or ambition”—i.e. free from the realm her father and maternal grandmother inhabit. 1 As for Belmont, McCrea offers a reading that is more accurate than Straub’s tagging him as “deceived”: “[Belmont] is an impaired patriarch, a superannuated rake” (150). Sir Belmont is not just “deceived,” which by 1 What Epstein does not make clear is whether Villars has legal custody, or even of he would be entitled to have any legal guardianship of Evelina. The novel begins with Lady Howard’s letter to Villars, informing him of Madame Duval’s desire to “repair the wrongs she has done” with respect to Evelina’s mother. Madame Duval has discovered that her daughter had “bequeathed an infant orphan to the world” and if Villars will provide “authentic proofs” of Evelina’s birth, Evelina should be sent to Madame Duval in Paris (13). The tone and contents of Lady Howard’s letter and Villars’ reply seem to indicate that no one has legal custody of Evelina. Villars had legal “guardianship” of Evelina’s mother until she was eighteen, however the language used to describe his custody of Evelina does not indicate legality: he refers to it as “the sacred trust” (18). Later correspondence also suggests that Villars does not have legal custody, but made a promise to the disconsolate Lady Belmont on her deathbed (126).


10 implying passivity negates the very actions that put him in the position to be deceived; Belmont is a rake, a paternal miscreant. And he is himself a deceiver. Evelina’s life is complicated even before her birth by her father’s deception and rakishness. Sir Belmont, “a very profligate young man,” enters into a private marriage with Evelina’s mother, but later “burnt the certificate of their marriage and denied that they had ever been united” (Evelina 17). This deception as well as his bad behavior prior to, during, and after his marriage taints his children’s lives. He is deceived into raising Polly, the daughter of the wet nurse Dame Green, as his own child, but denying his marriage and his child to begin with initiates the fraud. Dame Green, nurse to the disowned Lady Belmont during her confinement, knows of Lady Belmont’s wishes for Villars to raise Evelina, and passes off her own child to Sir Belmont as his daughter. Belmont sends child and nurse to France in order to prevent knowledge of his marriage (Evelina 366). With both the genuine and counterfeit daughters in obscurity, the fraud goes undetected for a time. But Belmont shares blame in the fraud; he is not simply acted upon. By trying to deny his marriage and keep his behavior unknown he becomes a participant in the fraud. As Evelina relates in a letter to Villars: that the certainty I carried in my countenance, of my real birth, made him, the moment he had recovered from a surprise which had almost deprived him of reason, suspect, himself, the imposition [. . .] He had, therefore, sent for the woman, and questioned her with utmost austerity: she turned pale, and was extremely embarrassed, but still persisted in affirming, that she had really brought him the daughter of Lady Belmont. His perplexity, he said, almost distracted him; he had always observed that his daughter bore no resemblance of either of her parents, but, as he had never doubted the veracity of the nurse, this circumstance did not give birth to any suspicion. (374) The “circumstance” of Belmont not seeing either himself or his wife in their child, which does not generate any suspicion, highlights the degree of impairment this patriarch suffers from. He is unable to recognize his own child. He does not see a resemblance of


11 his or his late wife’s qualities in Polly, and yet somehow misses the resemblance she must share with Dame Green. When accounts of Evelina surface, such as that from Lady Howard, Belmont doubts that he could be deceived and at the same time is so eager to conceal his behavior that he prefers to believe the nurse over Lady Howard (159-160, 366). Belmont’s faulty recognition exposes his children to danger at every turn. Discussions of Belmont’s impotence such as Straub’s tend to overlook his potency. Belmont has two biological children, Evelina and Macartney, which further underscores his very active role as paternal miscreant and rake. Belmont becomes involved with Macartney’s mother and “bound [. . .] by no ties but that of honour” does not honor his bond and “voluntarily desert[s] her” (229). Macartney’s mother raises him in obscurity in Scotland. Macartney, unaware of the circumstances surrounding his birth, meets and promptly falls in love with Polly Belmont. Belmont’s profligacy causes a pseudo-incestuous relationship. This is a potential consequence of not acknowledging biological children. The behavior of this paternal miscreant further threatens the gene pool of the landed class; Belmont has been raising a child of “low birth” as a Lady. Paternal miscreancy can ruin issue in other ways: Macartney is impoverished to the point where he purchases pistols and considers a life of crime (Evelina 231). Even when the deceptions are revealed Belmont’s actions towards his children—the legitimate Evelina, the illegitimate Macartney, and the counterfeit Polly—are still deceitful. A hurried double wedding is planned to prevent the public from noticing the sudden appearance of a second Miss Belmont: Macartney will wed Polly Green/Belmont and Evelina will wed Lord Orville. As the acerbic Mrs. Selwyn points out: for though compassion may make us wish to save the poor girl [Polly] the confusion of an immediate and public fall, yet justice demands you [Evelina]


12 should appear, henceforward, in no other light than that of Sir John Belmont’s daughter. Besides, between friends, I, who know the world, can see that half this prodigious delicacy for the little usurper, is the mere result of self-interest; for while her affairs are hushed up, Sir John’s, you know, are kept from being further brought to light. [second emphasis mine] (378) The resolution to the problem absolves the impaired patriarch who created the problem to begin with. Sir John Belmont is able to remain at large, so to speak, unprosecuted for his bad behavior. Captain Mirvan is a paternal miscreant of another sort. Belmont’s sexual licentiousness and resulting failure to recognize his legitimate heir (and his success in producing an illegitimate one) represents the impairment of patriarchy. Mirvan’s behavior mimics aristocratic merry gangsterism. As Barker-Benfield notes, “Mirvan illustrates that the rakish violence against women was not in the least the preserve of the aristocratic Lovelace, Sindall, Merton, and Willoughby” (240). The Mohockish “frolick,” to use Burney’s term, had become endemic. Mirvan returns after a long absence at sea rather “salty” (to say the least) and is decidedly not a man of feeling. Instead of providing the paternal/patriarchal structure that should protect his family and Evelina, who is in his family’s care, he exposes them and Evelina in particular to danger. Belmont’s presence, even while he is absent, is problematic, but Mirvan’s paternal absence while he is physically present is also problematic. In her discussion of Burney’s portrayal of marriage as a gamble, Straub uses the Mirvan marriage as a prime example of the danger marriage posed to women’s physical and psychic well-being: “This danger is transposed to the less tragic but more immediate portrayal of the Mirvan’s marriage [. . . .] whether the young woman marries or remains single, her well-being, health, and sanity are more probably endangered than redeemed by the social institution of love and marriage” (54-55). To this I would add that Burney


13 is underscoring the heightened danger caused by the extension of landed class rakishness into the “middling sort.” Marriage is a crapshoot, but the odds of losing are increased as merry gansterism becomes more democratized. Additionally, Burney is demonstrating how women are endangered by association; anyone in Mirvan’s “target area” is at risk. Straub notes that the other female members of the Mirvan household, Lady Howard, Maria, and Evelina, also suffer under the Captain’s reign of terror (60). His antics may mortify his wife, daughter, and mother in law, but they impact Evelina more. One of the ways Captain Mirvan endangers Evelina is by failing to shield her from designing gentlemen. At an assembly, Captain Mirvan does not intercede when Sir Clement Willoughby pesters Evelina for a dance: “What’s all that there?” cried the Captain. The man made a low bow, and said, “Only, Sir, a slight objection which this young lady makes to dancing with me, and which I am endeavoring to obviate. I shall think myself greatly honoured, if you will intercede for me.” “That lady, Sir,” said the Captain coldly, “is her own mistress.” And he walked sullenly on. (44) His exit leaves Evelina and Mrs. Mirvan to deal with Sir Clement’s harassment. What Mirvan says as he makes his exit is even more telling. Evelina is “her own mistress,” something she should not be, and she is so because the paternal figure puts her in that position. When fathers (or father figures) make their exits they leave young women unmoored and unprotected. Captain Mirvan only becomes more “protective” of Evelina for selfish reasons. He intercedes at first when Madam Duval tries to “take custody” of her granddaughter Evelina. However his sudden interest in Evelina’s welfare comes from his desire to provoke and impede Madam Duval, whom he intensely dislikes, not from any paternal sentiments (Evelina 54).


14 Captain Mirvan does not just mortify his family and Evelina in social settings or fail to protect Evelina from persistent and inappropriate suitors he also puts people in physical danger. He and Sir Clement play a prank on Madame Duval; they lure her to travel in a coach, where they masquerade as highwaymen, assault her, tie her up, and leave her in a ditch. This prank places Evelina, who dutifully accompanies her grandmother on the journey, at risk as well. While Mirvan is abducting Madame Duval, he leaves Evelina alone with Sir Clement and subject to his machinations. Evelina survives being “held up” by Sir Clement the highway robber, but receives a violent slap from Madame Duval for her troubles (Evelina 149). 2 Captain Mirvan does not direct his power and energy towards hindering Madame Duval’s custody of Evelina. The Captain’s constant provoking of Madame Duval leads to her insisting on taking Evelina to London, with the possibility of taking her to Paris as well: But so vehement is Madame Duval, that she would instantly have compelled me to attend her to town, in her way to Paris, had not Lady Howard so far exerted herself, as to declare she could by no means consent to my quitting her house, till she gave me up to you, by whose permission I had entered it. She was extremely angry at this denial; and the Captain, by his sneers and raillery, so much encreased her rage, that she has positively declared, should your next letter dispute her authority to guide me by her own pleasure, she will, without hesitation, make a journey to Berry Hill, and teach you to know who she is. [emphasis in original] (Evelina 162) Captain Mirvan’s incessant provocations consistently undermine Lady Howard’s efforts to protect Evelina from Madame Duval, Madame Duval’s plans to force Sir Belmont’s hand, and the questionable company Madame keeps. His behavior also undermines Villars’ position as foster father; Madame Duval goes to Berry Hill and 2 This is not the only “prank” Captain Mirvan plays; later in the novel he introduces a monkey dressed “ la mode” to humiliate the foppish Lovel. This incident results in a fight between Lovel and the monkey (Evelina 399-401).


15 demands custody of Evelina. Villars must concede to Evelina spending one month in London with Madame, and it is a perilous few weeks. In the brief time Evelina spends in London with her grandmother she is assaulted in a park (and must be rescued by women of ill repute), courted by an undesirable cousin, chased by Willoughby, and pursued by Monsieur Du Bois, who is essentially her grandmother’s lover. The obnoxious nature of Madame Duval would suggest that Evelina would be at some point forced to attend her grandmother, however Captain Mirvan obnoxious behavior certainly motivates Madame to take action more rashly. In reading Burney’s novels we do not just witness the decline of the patriarch, we also witness the rise of economically driven malfeasance. In Burney’s novels the two are often connected. Impotent fathers often sire profligate sons, or in the case of the Tyrold family in Camilla, the economic structure essentially emasculates the patriarch. The new marketplace creates a breeding ground for rakes and criminals or abets rakish behavior and the impotent patriarchal system is incapable of hindering malfeasance. Alterations in the economic marketplace led to new versions of status. Not only was leisure more “affordable” (and more dangerous) because of easy credit, but it became more difficult to distinguish who was “quality” and who was not. In Camilla, as in Cecilia, the plot lines are complicated by debt obligations. Eighteenth-century authors often used the system of credit and debt to convey the problems associated with the new economy and to explore the personal and social issues connected to the financial system. Burney is exploring social and market values, as well as the relationship between them, but she is also exposing economic and social fraud and the con-artists who perpetrate it with ease.


16 Major changes in England’s economic and social structures occurred during the eighteenth-century. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 ushered in a financial revolution, and this economic revolution in turn created new opportunities for crime. George Robb traces the origin of white collar crime to the creation of credit and banking networks and the increase in investments and industrialization (11). Crime evolved as the financial structure did. Almost as soon as the securities exchange was established, securities fraud was committed—Exchequer Bills were fraudulently used within one year of their initial issue (Robb 11-12). But securities fraud was not the sole negative result of the changing marketplace. Paper credit proved to be a risky venture. H.J. Habakkuk described the potential for fiscal insolvency/debt in the eighteenth-century for landed families: The position of the eldest son—relatively poor while his father lived but certain at his father’s death to inherit the estate—was always the point of weakness in the system of family management that rested on the strict settlement [.] But in the 60’s and 70’s the temptation to “show the spirit of an heir” seems to have grown stronger, and a good deal of wealth wandered as a result. (“England’s Nobility” 105) Consumerism and leisure pursuits like gaming combined with easy credit, sometimes in the form of annuities against which money could be borrowed, could lead to the financial ruin of an entire family. Habakkuk cites the case of Lord Foley whose two sons borrowed one hundred thousand pounds to repay gambling debts, an act which “permanently impaired the fortunes of their family” (“England’s Nobility” 106). Debt was not limited to the landed class; young men of the “middling sort” also fell under the spell of paper credit. Burney’s brother Charles ran up debts he could not repay on more than one occasion (Hemlow 144). During the period, credit could be created based on personal security alone. Trade credit, or book debt, often had nothing to guarantee repayment but “confidence” (Hoppit 65). Presumably both Lionel Tyrold and


17 Clermont Lynmere easily incur debts because they stand to inherit property. However the debt incurred exceeds whatever sums they stand to inherit—if they inherit at all. Much like Lord Foley’s sons, Lionel and Clermont severely impair the fortunes of their family. The debt Lionel incurs in three years at Oxford comes to light after he has fled abroad. An initial bill for 171 sent to Mr. Tyrold by one tradesman is followed by many others (761): [Mr. Tyrold’s] predictions failed not to be fulfilled: the application made by one creditor, soon reached every other, and urged similar measures. Bills, therefore, came in daily, with petitions for payment; and as Lionel still wanted a month or two of being of age, his creditors depended with confidence upon the responsibility of his father. Nor here closed the claims springing from general ill conduct. Two young men of fashion, hard pressed for their own failures, stated to Mr. Tyrold the debt of honour owing them from Lionel: and three notorious gamesters, who had drawn in the unthinking youth to his ruin, enforced the same information, with a hint that, if they were left unsatisfied, the credit of the young man would fall the sacrifice of their ill treatment. (762) In the end, Lionel has run up bills and debts in excess of five hundred pounds (763). Here Burney is revealing one of the most dangerous aspects of paper credit. Credit, essentially a contractual obligation, was extended to those who could not enter into a legal contract. This caused the heads of households to unwittingly be made liable for debts they did not enter into: “By subsuming a varied assortment of family members under the legal identity of the male householder, the law of contract liberated much credit purchasing from the immediate oversight of legally responsible individuals. Creating [. . .] artificial legal persons liable for economic acts of which they often had no direct knowledge” (Finn 21). Since credit was often based on “character” and future presumptions of inheritance or on the law of necessaries, it was quite possible for young men, or young women, to bankrupt their fathers. Because of this odd credit system


18 Lionel, not yet “of age” is able to incur debt, and Mr. Tyrold is held liable. The law of necessaries allowed women who were not sui juris (or feme sole) to purchase on spousal credit. 3 The notion of necessaries and paternal credit also extended to include children: “Entering university before attaining his legal majority, an undergraduate student was entitled to purchase goods ‘suitable and agreeable’ to his father’s ‘station and condition in life’ on his father’s credit” (Finn 274). 4 In this way, credit emasculates Mr. Tyrold; he not only loses control over his son but loses his own freedom when he is imprisoned for his child’s debt. 5 And the damage Lionel causes his family goes beyond his excessive spending and gaming—he is also a con artist. Camilla reveals the con artist to be one of the by-products of the new economy. Many of its peripheral characters are charlatans of varying sorts, but Burney also has centrally placed a con artist within the respectable Tyrold household. Lionel’s spending and gaming habits are not revealed until much later in the narrative, although they are the motive behind his criminal behavior, but his activities as a con artist occur earlier, beginning with extortion. Lionel sends sending anonymous letters to his Uncle Revil 3 According to Blackstone, “The husband is bound to provide his wife with necessaries by law, as much as himself; and if she contracts debts for them, he is obliged to pay them: but for any thing besides necessaries, he is not chargeable” (1:442). 4 Please see Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, volume 1, chapter 16 for a more detailed explanation of the father’s legal obligation to provide maintenance and necessaries for his children. 5 Mr. Tyrold is actually jailed for Camilla’s debts. After making arrangements to pay Lionel’s legitimate creditors (he does not pay the “debts of honor” which are gambling debts) and helping Sir Hugh pay Clermont’s debt, Camilla’s moneylender, Mr. Clykes, shows up demanding payment. Mr. Tyrold [agreed] to pay, when it should be possible, the sums actually delivered to the creditors, and for which Mr. Clykes could produce their own receipts; but refusing, positively and absolutely, any gratuity whatsoever, from detestation of so dangerous and seductive a species of trade, as clandestine and illegal money-lending to minors. (818) Mr. Clykes threatens Tyrold with a writ if payment is not made immediately. Since Mr. Tyrold unable to make immediate payment (tapped out because of Lionel and Clermont) he is arrested and jailed (823).


19 demanding payment under threat of death (225-226). These types of letters were nothing new in eighteenth-century England. Some of these letters were used as a form of “social protest” and others were used for private reasons—because of personal grievances or for purposes of extortion. In “The Crime of Anonymity,” E.P. Thompson traces the extortion/blackmail letter “epidemic” to Bristol in 1730 (263). Letters demanding payment of small sums, under the threat of arson, began showing up in homes and workshops. This “easy money” scheme rapidly spread, possibly due to the publicity the Bristol letters received; the London Gazette often reprinted the letters along with offers of rewards for the culprits. Under the Black Act of 1723, these types of letters were a capital offense, and many convicted were hanged (E.P. Thompson 263-264). Some tradesmen resorted to threatening letters as a means to collect or settle business grievances (E.P. Thompson 265). The majority of these letters typically came from the “expected” place, either from the laboring class—the status group with the most social, economic, and/or political reasons to use the anonymous letter for protest (since they had the least amount of social, economic, and political power)—or from garden-variety criminals. Threatening extortion letters are not expected from Lionel Tyrold. Attending Oxford, Lionel applies himself to a fairly non-traditional course of study, namely living with that “spirit of an heir.” Lionel lacks the financial means to fully pursue this particular branch of learning, and subsequently he and his fellow classmates come up with the extortion scheme. Their justification is simple: since Lionel is Revil’s heir apparent, it is already Lionel’s money: “Why, my dear, it was only taking a little of my own fortune beforehand, for I am his heir; so we all agreed it was merely robbing myself;


20 for we had several consultations about it, and one of us is to be a lawyer” (226). Here it would seem that Oxford is training these young men to become a gang of thieves and not clergymen, physicians, and professionals. Lionel is only industrious when he is engaged in criminal activities. Besides conferring with an Oxford law student, Lionel takes precautions with the extortion letter, including a warning that spies will be watching Revil to ensure he followed the letter to the letter. This warning is similar to actual extortion letters written during the period: “One of us will uplift the Money while three stand on the Watch with a Couple of Good Pistols [. . .]” (E.P. Thompson 266). This “consultation” among the Oxford students points to larger issues—the problems associated with what Mrs. Tyrold refers to as “our present race of young men” (222). The diversions traditionally reserved for the aristocracy were more widely available in the new economy. In the traditional hierarchical structure, the “landed, leisured gentleman” perfectly fit into his role as a member of the ruling class because his position above industry and industriousness (his leisure time) provided him “the opportunity to grow wise” (Jordan 14). However, Britain was defining itself in a new way—as an industrious nation—as “polite and commercial people.” And this did not accord with what was often the reality of leisure among the upper class—time spent not in obtaining wisdom, but in “hunting, riding, drinking, [. . .] ‘wenching,’” and, of course, gaming (Davidoff and Hall 110). Lionel and his Oxford gang suggest that many of the second sons and sons of second sons do not aspire to become industrious in the professions or the clergy, but instead pursue a dangerous (and aristocratic) form of idleness. As Lionel informs his sisters, the young men “of spirit” find “every thing in the world” to do other than study at Oxford (240). Lionel demonstrates the precariousness of


21 the presumption of future financial gains through inheritance and the easy “spend now, pay later” lifestyle. 6 So Lionel joins of the ranks of extortionists; when this fails he escapes the gallows, but continues his criminal activity. Besides financially ruining his father, Lionel (along with Clermont) essentially bankrupt Sir Hugh, but even more importantly Lionel’s constant applications to Camilla for money help facilitate her debts. Just before she leaves for Tunbridge, Lionel appeals to Camilla for money. Her offer of twenty pounds is scoffed at; he demands 200-300. He sends her to Sir Hugh for the money with assurances that this is his “last scrape.” Lionel takes the bank draft for 200, but takes her twenty pounds as well (379-385). But it is not Lionel’s last scrape and in taking Camilla’s money, he sets her indebtedness in motion. Burney’s con artists swindle and complicate matters for her protagonists, usually by embroiling them in debt. In the new economy, the social order developed a more permeable membrane. As the ability to claim wealth in the new economy through paper credit created new prospects for financial fraud, so the ability to appear to belong to a status group created new opportunities for social fraud. In Camilla, the debt Lionel sets in motion for Camilla is furthered by a “bad girl.” Although Mrs. Mitten does not correspond in gender to Burney’s other criminals, she does in criminal behavior. Mrs. Mitten is a social con artist. She appears to Camilla and Miss Dennel on their return from the theater: “a fat, tidy, neat looking elderly woman, who, in a large black bonnet, and a blue checked apron, was going their way” (423). This is a disguise: “I’m a 6 The money Lionel assumes he will inherit is not his, nor will it be. Lionel is exposed as the culprit, and eventually it is revealed that Uncle Revil has married his house-keeper and has named his new step-son his heir (789-790).


22 gentlewoman!” she proclaims, and reveals another apron under the checked apron ensemble: “[A] white muslin one, embroidered and flounced” (424). The checked apron, Mrs. Mitten explains, allows her to journey safely at night, but it also allows her to move in and out of social circles of varying ranks—a social shape shifter. Because she has the apron, here the sign of a gentlewoman, and lives in the neighborhood, Mrs. Mitten is accepted, if not as an equal than at least as respectable enough to associate with the members of the higher strata. But she is really a hanger-on, courting favor through obsequious behavior. When recognized by Dubster, who lacks the sense to keep quiet about their “lower” origins, Mrs. Mitten gives him a lesson on how to behave around gentlefolk—essentially as a toady. This behavior has benefits beyond association—she is able to economize because she rarely pays her own way (435-437). While Mrs. Mitten manages to prevent Dubster from narrating a full disclosure of her past, she cannot stop the narrator from revealing her origins, motives, and manners fully: Mrs. Mitten has begun life as the apprentice to a small country milliner; but had rendered herself so useful to a sick elderly gentlewoman, who had lodged in the house, that she left her a legacy, which, by sinking into an annuity, enabled her to quit her business, and set up, in her own conception, for a gentlewoman herself; though with so small an income, that to sustain her new post, she was frequently reduced to far greater dependence and hardships than she experienced in her old one. [. . .] To be useful, she would submit to any drudgery; to become agreeable, devoted herself to any flattery. To please was her incessant desire, and her rage for popularity included every rank and class of society. The more eminent, of course, were her first objects, but the same descended to the lowest. She would work, read, go of errands, or cook a dinner; be a parasite, a spy, an attendant, a drudge; keep a secret or spread a report [. . .] all with the pretext to oblige others, but all, in fact, for simple egotism; as prevalent in her mind as in that of the more highly ambitious, though meaner and less dangerous. (688) Unfortunately for Camilla, Mrs. Mitten is dangerous. What Burney shows her readers in Mrs. Mitten is the havoc wreaked when an embroidered apron makes a “gentlewoman.”


23 Once Mrs. Mitten has conned her way into Camilla’s social circle, she becomes the source of Camilla’s debt. 7 Paper credit and debt become problematic for the heroines in Burney’s post Evelina novels, and debt is largely the result of others acting upon them. On debt in Camilla, James Thompson asserts, “Here, debt is presented in a more ordinary, individualized story of a young woman who gets in financial trouble by spending too much money” (163). This summary grossly oversimplifies the cause of Camilla’s debt. Camilla’s debt is not merely a matter of spending too much money; the cause is much more complicated. Here debt is the result of two con artists—Lionel’s taking what little money Camilla has and Mrs. Mitten’s ingratiating herself into Camilla’s life and acting—unsolicited—as Camilla’s agent. Mitten begins this “agency” by offering to repair Camilla’s waterlogged hat: Mrs. Mitten, declaring she could not eat till she had seen what could be done for the hat of Miss Tyrold, accompanied her upstairs, took it off herself, wiped it, smoothed, and tried to new arrange it; and, at last, failing to succeed, insisted upon taking it home, to put it in order, and promised to return it in the morning [.] Camilla was much ashamed, but she had no means to buy another [] She thought, therefore, this new acquaintance at least as useful as she was officious, and accepted her civility with thanks. (437-438) But strings are always attached to Mrs. Mitten’s “civility.” By the following day, putting the hat “in order” means Mrs. Mitten replaces all the trimmings with new ones from a milliner. These trimmings, which Mrs. Mitten assures Camilla cost “a trifle,” because the milliner’s goods are “monstrous cheap,” have been charged to Camilla’s previously non-existent account (447-448). While at first, Mrs. Mitten’s establishing a seasonal account for Camilla with the milliner is a relief to Camilla, who has given Lionel her money, her misrepresentation of actual costs will haunt Camilla later. Mrs. Mitten is certainly not as 7 This is, perhaps, another instance where the patriarch should be protecting the family from outside forces, but does not.


24 fiscally unaware as Camilla, considering she has enough economic savvy to sink her money into an annuity and live as a “gentlewoman” on the income produced and on the cast-offs and generosity of the gentlefolk to whom she caters. This pattern repeats throughout the novel; Mrs. Mitten acts as Camilla’s agent, keeps Camilla in the dark about actual costs and bills, and procures un-requested items that get Camilla deeper and deeper into debt. Mrs. Mitten offers to make a turban for Camilla, arrives with a new cloak for Camilla, and purchases an excessive amount of fabric for a new ball gown for Camilla when asked only to inquire about the cost of the gown—all with constant assurances of the inexpensiveness of the items (462, 660, 691-692). Mrs. Mitten’s intentions are hardly altruistic, she usually takes the cast-offs for herself (463, 692). If Camilla is fiscally unaware it is in part because she rarely does her own shopping when Mrs. Mitten is around. Mrs. Mitten also manages to involve herself in Camilla’s charitable giving, which becomes yet another debt. She solicits Camilla to come to the aid of the struggling Higden family (711-712). Having no money herself, Camilla must use credit to offer them charity. With the debts incurred at Tunbridge weighing on her mind, Camilla engages Mrs. Mitten to settle her accounts: “The report spread by Lionel [that she is Sir Hugh’s heiress] she immediately disavowed, and, producing her twenty pound bank note, begged Mrs. Mitten would have the goodness to get it changed for her, and to discharge her accounts without delay” (606). Mrs. Mitten, not believing Camilla’s disclamation of wealth, promises to discharge Camilla’s debts, but fails to comply with the request, or honor her promise, leaving Camilla in limbo: but [Camilla] could neither obtain her bills, no answers ever arriving, nor the money for her twenty pound note, Mrs. Mitten always evading to deliver it, and


25 asserting she was sure somebody would come in the stage the next day for the payment she had promised; and when Camilla wanted cash for any of the few articles she now allowed herself to think indispensable, instead of restoring it into her hands, she flew out herself to purchase the goods that were required, and always brought them home with assurances they were cheaper than the shopkeepers would let her have them for herself. (689) Eventually, Camilla receives all the bills charged to her, most of which were for items she never requested or that Mrs. Mitten misrepresented. The bills from Tunbridge—for the milliner, shoe-maker, haberdasher, and glover—total sixteen pounds: “The chief articles has been nearly forced upon her by Mrs. Mitten, with assurances of their cheapness, and representations of their necessity, that, joined to her ignorance of the enormous charges of fashion, had led her to imagine four or five guineas the utmost sum” (741). These “assurances” were as much of a con as Mrs. Mitten’s assertions of being a gentlewoman; as Epstein notes, Mrs. Mitten’s uses discourse in order to “curry favor and defraud” (140). But Camilla’s Southampton debts are far more serious. The new gown and accessories (“ear-rings and necklace, silver fringes and spangles, feathers, nosegay, and shoe-roses, with the other parts of the dress, and the fine Valencienne edging”) 33 pounds, the un-requested cloak 9 guineas, “various small articles” 5 pounds, the Higden family rent 18 pounds, Higden’s supplies 37 pounds. The grand total: 118 9 S (743-744). Again, the responsibility for these debts rests squarely on Mrs. Mitten. Unbidden, she made purchases and ran up Camilla’s bills. Asked to settle debts with the bank note when the amount owed is potentially manageable, Mrs. Mitten evades and manipulates and misappropriates until Camilla’s debt is monstrous. Here too Mrs. Mitten offers her services—arranging a loan from a moneylender. By the conclusion of the novel, Mrs. Mitten has truly “arrived.” As the consummate con artist she has convinced Mr. Dennel


26 of her ability to save him “half his annual expenses” and becomes, in the true fortune hunter fashion, Mrs. Dennel (910).


CHAPTER 3 MATRIMONIAL MALFEASANCE: FORTUNE HUNTERS Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel A well-bred Lord t' assault a gentle Belle? Alexander Pope The Rape of the Lock Burney’s “new men” are not limited to bad dads or con artists. Fortune hunters are among the bad boy constituency in her novels, and in Camilla in particular. Marriage, like debt, was often a central theme in novels of the period. Mercenary marriage enabled Burney to explore the “unhappy marriage” of finance and romance. Patriarchy was one of the root causes behind mercenary marriages, since marriage was a convenient way to transfer, retain, or gain property. However Burney’s heroines are not driven by their fathers or families to marry; no patriarchal despot forces unwanted unions. But Burney’s heroines are not protected from fortune hunters by their father or families either; no patriarchal despot guards against bad suitors. The instances of attempts to arrange marriages do more to show patriarchal weakness than patriarchal domination. Sir Hugh has various plans regarding the nuptials of his nieces: he prepares Eugenia for his nephew Clermont and plans on Indiana marrying Edgar Mandlebert, who is his brother’s foster-son of sorts. He does not do this to gain wealth, but instead to ensure his nieces are secure. Sir Hugh is inept, and fails to secure his nieces from danger. In Cecilia, the only patriarchal edict is that whomever Cecilia weds must take her name. This decree is 27


28 problematic, but not in the sense that it demonstrates patriarchal tyranny, instead it demonstrates patriarchal absence. 1 The issue of marriage, especially of the mercenary variety, is complex. Debate exists as to how prevalent mercenary marriages were during the eighteenth-century. Works by Lawrence Stone, H.J. Habakkuk, and R.B. Outhwaite on changes in marriage practices and the pursuit of heiresses have recently been disputed by David Lemmings and Eileen Spring. Lemmings contends that Stone’s assertions of the movement away from arranged towards companionate marriage is contradicted by Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753. The Marriage Act was an effort to prevent clandestine marriages, heiress abduction, and bigamy. Supporters of the Act apparently thought fortune hunting a serious threat: “when a young gentleman or lady is entitled to a large estate, the advantage to be got by marrying them is so great, and consequently so strong, that our laws have never as yet been able to prevent the evil.” 2 The Marriage Act required parental consent for marriages of minors, public license and ceremony, and restricted enforced marriage contracts entered into by minors. Lemmings argues the Act, by extending parental (mostly paternal) control over marriage, sustained the patriarchal structure. Additionally Lemmings takes issue with Stone’s portrayal of the opposition to the Marriage Act. In The Family, Sex, and Marriage, Stone describes oppositional rhetoric as inspired by “a passion for the individual welfare as opposed to family interest” (166). Lemmings makes the point that Stone downplays the “self-interested” motivations of the Members contesting the bill, since it would not support Stone’s “affective 1 See McCrea’s Impotent Fathers for an in depth examination of the demographic crisis, patrilinear succession, and Burney’s heroines. 2 Sir Dudley Ryder, 1753, as quoted in Lemmings 339.


29 individualism” thesis (353). Those in oppos ition to Hardwicke’s Marriage Act were men who had been rather opportunistic in marriage themselves. Lemmings includes biographical information about the major opponents of the Act—Robert Nugent, William Beckford, Charles Townshend, and Henry F ox in particular—all of whom had made mercenary marriages, concluding, “The life-hi stories of these oppone nts of the marriage bill suggest that far from being driven by the ideology of love and affection as the proper foundations for marriage, they were actually fortune-hunters, who wanted only to keep the marriage market open for fellow spirits” (356).3 Lemmings contends that the Marriage Act and its opposition do not support Stone’s assertions of an eight eenth-century move towards co mpanionate marriage, and he also questions the portrayal of heiress pursuit and marriag e markets in the eighteenthcentury. Likewise Spring refutes the depicti on of epidemic heires s-hunting in the works of Habakkuk, Stone, and Outhwaite. According to Spring, the laws of inheritance of the period expose the “marriage market” as a myth: All in all, there would seem to be good reason to thi nk that the profit motive in aristocratic marriage has, at least, been greatly exaggerated. Any portion in five figures has often enough been taken to pr ove that the marriage revolved around it, and words like “huge,” “staggering,” and “extravagant” sprinkle discussions of aristocratic portions without the portions’ being assesse d against estate value. Straight-faced references to “the marriage market” are common, and R. B. Outhwaite has explicitly compared aristo cratic marriage to a business operation. (177) Spring also refers to works like Habakkuk’s “Marriage Settlement s in the Eighteenth Century,” in which Habakkuk rais es questions about correlat ions between the rise in portions and a rise in mercenary ma rriages (Spring 163; Habakkuk “Marriage 3 Horace Walpole apparently thought enough of Robert Nugent’s notoriously mercenary marriages to suggest adding “Nugnetize” to the lexicon (Malcomson x).


30 Settlements” 24). The actual number of he iresses may be far less than previously thought. In Spring’s study, th e data used in earlier st udies of marriage does not accurately reflect the number of heiresses. Some of the misinterpretations surrounding heiresses and heiress hunti ng have been connected to a blurring of terminology: A more general cause of misconception about the extent of the wealth transmitted through women [. . .] is the popular use of the word “fortune” as a synonym for the precise contemporary term “portion.” [. . .] Yet, a fortune, in this sense, did not make a woman an heiress: rather it [the portion] was the necessary minimum, in the age of the strict settlement, to make her marriageable. (Malcomson 4) Beyond the problem surrounding the data us ed in previous studies and the interchangeable terminology, Spring also locates the real issue within the es tate practices. She argues that heiresses were not so much pursued as disinherited through legal maneuvers; and the disinheritance of women is much more of a mercenary “drama” than the pursuit of them (171). However I am not as concerned with the degree to which marriages were mercenary during the eighteenth-century as I am with how Burney portrays heiresshunting in her novels. Even if heiress pur suit was not altogether that common in England, it is so frequent and criminal in Burney’s novels that it is worth examination. In Camilla , the hunting of Camilla, Eugenia, and Indi ana is incited by Lionel. At the first assembly the young ladies attend, Lionel informs the men present that one of the trio is Sir Hugh’s heiress: “Here Lionel, hastily r unning up to Camilla, whispered, ‘I have made a fine confusion among the red-coats about th e heiress of Cleves! I have put them all upon different scents’” ( Camilla 69).4 Lionel has turned his si sters and cousin into the prey at a fox hunt, complete with red-coated hunters. This sport has consequences; it 4 With the exception of Edgar Mandelb ert’s proposal, Lionel’s false report s and machinations are behind all of the marriage proposals Camilla receives.


31 exposes his sisters to danger, especially Eugenia who is eventually abducted. In Camilla , Burney focuses on three fortune hunters in particular—Major Cerwood, Dubster, and Bellamy. Major Cerwood is a well-bred second son type. He “courts” Camilla in social settings for a time before making his case at Cleves. The beginning of Major Cerwood’s proposal seems to indicate a companiona te match, but quickly turns financial: He then made a declaration, in form, of the most ardent passion for Camilla; mentioned his family, which was an honourab le one; talked of his expectations with confidence, though vaguely; and desi red to leave the disposition of the settlement wholly to the baronet; who, he hoped, would not refuse to see his elder brother, a gentleman of fortune in Lincol nshire, who would have the honour to wait upon him, at any time he would be so good as to appoint, upon this momentous affair. ( Camilla 532) Burney couches Cerwood’s fiscal desire in emo tional sentiment. This melding of feeling and finance, disingenuous sentiment, is one of the more dangerous characteristics of Burney’s bad boys. That the Major’s “arde nt passion” is directly followed by a discussion of pecuniary settlement is to be expected—having heard from Lionel that Camilla is Sir Hugh’s sole heiress, the Majo r gallops at “full speed” towards Cleves to make his proposal (531). His “ardent passi on” is spurred by this bit of erroneous information, and quickly cools once he is commended by Sir Hugh for his lack of mercenary motives (533). This revelation leaves the Major in quite a bind: “Major Cerwood was excessively distressed. To re treat seemed impossible; yet to connect himself without fortune, when he thought he was addressing a ri ch heiress, was a turn of fate he scarcely knew how to either support or to parry” (534). This scene is darkly comic: a fortune hunter duped by a con arti st into proposing an unprofitable match. Fortunately for the Major, Camilla declines his offer. But at least this experience teaches Major Cerwood a valuable lesson, he resolves “to gather his next documents concerning


32 the portion of a fair damsel, from authority bett er to be relied upon than that of a brother” (535). Major Cerwood is not the only fort une hunter conned into making a proposal, Dubster is yet another suitor Lionel directs to Cleves. When compared to men like Major Cerwood, men of better breeding, Dubster’s figure borders on the ridiculous. His lack of social graces makes him more explicit about what he is after. Dubster makes comments to Camilla quite freely about Eugenia: “Tom Hicks says she’ll have a power of money [. . . .] He recommended it to me to dance with her myself, from the first, upon that account” ( 77). Here Burney has revealed the nature of the fortune hunter—there can be little doubt of which “account” Dubster is thinking. Burney also uses Dubster’s diction to caricaturize the fortune hunter. In Cecilia , the guardian Briggs is such a miser that he omits words from his speech to prevent spending them, and similarly Dubster’s discourse contains pecuniary peculiarities. Dubster is not miserly with words, but his omissions merge females and finance. His description of Eugenia is marked by what it leaves out: “t hat ugly little body’s a great fortune” (77). Eugenia does not possess a great fortune, nor is she worth a great fortune, she is a great fortune. Females are capital. His direct addr ess to Camilla shows a similar fiscal fusion: “I ask pardon, ma’am, for mentioning the thing, [. . .] not knowing then you was the fortune yourself ” [my emphasis] (85). Dubster has transferred the account to Camilla. Just as in his description of his previous wives, the female is described in terms of credit and debit.5 5 Dubster’s first wife had money, but cost a “mort of money to the potecary before she went off.” His second “brought [] a very pretty fortune” (279).


33 Dubster goes to Cleves under the same fa lse report as Major Cerwood, but being more direct, Dubster presents his marriage proposal as a business transaction from the outset: Why, I mean, sir, what shall you give her at the first? I know she’s to have it all at your demise; but that i’n’t th e bird in the hand. Now, when once I know that, I can make my offers, which shall be handsome or not, according. And that’s but fair. So how much can you part with, sir? (602) The marriage scene is repeated—a fortune hunter duped by con artist into proposing an unprofitable match. That Dubste r is entirely unsuited to ask for Camilla’s hand escapes him, but does not escape readers. What Burney does here is present two characters who, despite their differences in breeding and speech, are not altogeth er different. By reproducing the proposal scene with fortune hunters of dissimilar social rank, Burney reduces the upper class mercenary male, with all the “ardent passion” he professes, to Dubster’s level. Dubster’s reaction to the reality of Camilla’s financial situation is similar to the Major’s. He quickly make s his escape, thankful to have dodged an “unprofitable” union: “Matrimony’s a good thing enough, when it’s to help a man forward: but a person must be a fool indee d, to put himself out of his way for nothing” (603). Dubster may be a social climbing serial/m aterial monogamist, but he is relatively harmless, as is Major Cerwood. They cau se difficulties and misunderstandings in Camilla’s life and her relationship with E dgar, as well as the social embarrassment associated with Dubster. However Burney’s fortune hunters are not always so benign. Cecilia ’s Monckton, whose modus operandi is diffe rent from that of Dubster and Major Cerwood, merits mention. Monckton is intr oduced by the narrator as a fortune hunter: In the bloom of his youth, impatient for wealth and ambitious of power, he had tied himself to a rich dowager of quali ty, whose age, though sixty-seven, was but


34 among the smaller species of her evil prope rties, her disposi tion being far more repulsive than her wrinkles. An inequality of years so considerable, had led him to expect that the fortune he had thus acquired, would speedily be released from the burthen with which it was at present encu mbered; but his expectations proved as vain as they were mercenary [. . . .] Ten years he had been married to her, yet her health was good. ( Cecilia 7) In her portrayal of a fortune hunter whos e goal is deferred by his wife’s strong constitution, and hence must live with a woman who is both wicked and wrinkled, Burney is meting out some poetic justice. But Monckton has not learned his lesson. His sights are set on Cecilia: “he had long looked upon her as his future property; as such he had indulged his admiration, and as such he had already appropr iated her estate ( Cecilia 9). He is hunting another fortune, but in a more youthful and attractive form. But Cecilia is moving to London to live with one of her guardians and his wife, which will expose her to rivals. Monckton, having already “appr opriated” Cecilia’s fo rtune, goes to great lengths to keep her unattached until the inevitable death of his wife finally frees him. The degree of his pecuniary passion and the le vel he stoops to in order to appropriate Cecila’s fortune is worse than either Dubs ter or Cerwood; but what sets Monckton apart is his truly masked villainy. Upon the death of her uncl e, Cecilia has thre e ill suited guardians: Harrel, a spendthrift, Briggs, a miser, and Delvile, an excessively pompous gentleman. Monckton, whom she has known half her life, feigns frie ndship and a sort of su rrogate guardianship. Because of this, Cecilia “considered him as the only person in London who was interested in her welfare” ( Cecilia 59). He is interested in her welfare, but with hardly altruistic motives. Monckton’s bad behavi or, unlike many of Bu rney’s bad boys, has received some attention from critics, most notably from Straub: “Most insidiously, perhaps, sexual desire and greed lurk be neath the surface of Monckton’s friendship for


35 Cecilia, so that what Cecilia thinks is his disinterested concern for her welfare is actually a series of poisonous attempts to manipulat e her into marriage with himself after the death of Monckon’s despised wife” (132). Th ere is no “perhaps” about it; Monckton is the devil in disguise (quite lit erally at the Harrel’s masquerade). As for his desire, while it may appear at first sexual desire for Ceci lia, it is always a matter of her money. With Monckton Burney intensifies the peril this heroine faces. Cecilia’s guardians are entirely unsuitable, but the fam ily friend she relies on is a fortune hunter. At one point in the novel, Cecilia borrows 9,050 from a moneylender to rescue Harrel from creditors. Upon learning of the enorm ity of her debt, afte r Harrel has committed suicide, Monckton appears to come to Cecilia’s aid: he represented to her the additional loss she must suffer by paying an exorbitant interest for so large a sum, and the almost certainty with which se might be assured of very gross imposition: he expatiated, also, upon the injury which her character might receive in the world, were it known that she used such methods to procure money, since the circumstances which had been her inducement would probably either be unnoticed or misrepresented: and when he had awakened in her much uneasiness and regret upon this subject, he offered to pay the Jew without delay, clear her wholly from his power, and quietly receive the money when she came of age from herself. (437) Monckton is eliminating Cecilia’ s debt to the moneylender, but at the same time he is putting her in his debt. Moreover, Monckton uses Cecilia’s debt against her. In an effort to prevent a union between Cecilia and Mo rtimer Delvile, Monc kton communicates to Mr. Delvile that Cecilia has spen t the entire 10,000 left to her by her father and is in fact in debt to a Jewish moneylender. This chi canery eventually causes Cecilia, at the brink of madness, to be turned away from the De lvile house by Delvile senior, leaving her on the streets and vulnerable. If Monckton’s actio ns were motivated by real love for Cecilia, or even by an obsession, he would not act so viciously, but at the heart of Monckton’s desire for Cecilia is his desire for her financ ial assets. The charitable work she pursues


36 when she comes of age sickens him: “to see money thus sported away, which he had long considered as his own, to behold those sums which he had destined for his pleasures, thus lavishly bestowed upon beggars, excited a rage he could with difficulty conceal, and an uneasiness he could hardly endure; and he languished, he sickened for the time, when he might put a period to such romantic proceedings” ( Cecilia 771). The language Burney employs here underscores the malfeasance of th e fortune hunter and tu rns the language of romance on its head. The fortune hunter languishes and is sickened , not for the love of his lady, but for her money. Yet, for all hi s malevolence, Monckton is not the worst of Burney’s bad boys.


CHAPTER 4 DOMESTIC MALEVOLENCE: BURNEY’S HOUSEHOLD BAD BOYS But Man corrupt, perverse in all his ways, In search of Vanities from Nature strays Alexander Pope Satire I, ii For many of Burney’s bad boys the heroines are “legal tender.” These young women are not just measured by, but are also used and pursued because of their wealth, whether real or imagined. In this way, finance often complicates the romance of Burney’s female protagonists. The bad boys mentioned thus far have been harmful to the heroines’ reputations or romantic relations. However other members of Burney’s rogues’ gallery are even more dangerous, more violent, and more insidious. They include a fortune hunter who accomplishes his goal through violence and household pimps. Critics have noted the escalating violence in Burney’s novels. Its site is as notable as the relationships the offenders have to heroines. These bad boys are dangerous, but what makes them more dangerous is their relative position—they have domestic access. Epstein argues, “Burney’s novels encode struggles against forced loss of control in the way their apparently benign domestic settings turn out to foster potential and actual violence. In stunning episodes of unprepared, gratuitous brutality, violence repeatedly shatters the apparently conventional social economy the novels’ settings appear to subscribe and protect” (87). What is deeply encoded into Burney’s novels is the lack of safety for women anywhere, especially in light of patriarchy’s failings. The heroines are not only accosted in public, but in private as well. In Burney’s novels the benign domestic setting fosters potential and actual violence, and that in itself is the 37


38 problem. The domestic economy is a dangerous and often violent place. Economic gain is often behind the violence and crime the heroines suffer within the domestic sphere. Bellamy is by far the most villainous of Burney’s fortune hunters. His villainy has the strongest connection to the changes in the social and economic structures of eighteenth-century England. Bellamy, “the younger son of the master of a great gaming-house,” had been “utterly neglected and left to run wild” (892). Attempts to amend the neglect of his youth are made after Bellamy’s father becomes wealthy in the new economy: but his father afterwards becoming very rich, had bestowed upon him as good an education as the late period at which it was begun could allow. He was intended for a lucrative business; but he had no application, and could retain no post: he went into the army; but he had no courage, and was speedily cashiered. Inheriting a passion for the means by which the paternal fortune had been raised, he devoted himself next to its pursuit, and won very largely. But as extravagance and good luck, by long custom, go hand in had, he spent as fast as he acquired; and upon a tide of fortune in his disfavour, was tempted to reverse the chances by unfair play, was found out, and as ignominiously chaced [sic] from the field of hazard as from that of patriotism. His father was no more; his eldest brother would not assist him; he sold therefore his house, and all he possessed but his wardrobe, and, relying upon a very uncommonly handsome face and person, determined to seek a fairer lot, by eloping, if possible, with some heiress. (892-893) Any amendments to Bellamy’s character ultimately fail because of that same new economy. His education and opportunities are paid for by profits from a gaming house, but the wealth acquired by this “leisure” activity is fruit from the poisoned tree. Bellamy is not improved by the acquisition of cultural or intellectual capital. Unable and unwilling to use the legitimate opportunities he is given, Bellamy resorts to fortune hunting. Bellamy is quite industrious when it comes to heiress pursuit; he woos Eugenia in the standard ways—dancing with her at assemblies, making impassioned speeches, and sending letters full of emotions and sentimentality:


39 I do not dare, cruelest of your sex, to write you another letter; but if you would save me from the abyss of destruction, you will let me hear my final doom from your own mouth. I ask nothing more! Ah! walk but one moment in the park, near the pales; deny not your miserable adorer this last single request, and he will fly this fatal climate which has swallowed up his repose for ever! But, till then, here he will stay, and never quit the spot whence he sends you these lines, till you have deigned to pronounce verbally his doom, though he should famish for want of food! (316-317) While Bellamy constantly refers to feelings in his hunt, his love making only hides his sinister intentions. 1 Eventually, he abducts Eugenia to Gretna Green, and her account of the journey illustrates the false nature of his emotions: She then briefly narrated, that though violence was used to silence her at every place where she sought to be rescued, every interval was employed, by Bellamy, in the humblest supplications for her pardon, and most passionate protestations of regard, all beginning and ending in declaring, that to live longer without her was impossible, and pledging his ardent attachment for obtaining her future favor; spending the period from stage to stage, or turnpike to turnpike, in kneeling to beseech forgiveness for the desperation to which he was driven, by the most cruel and hopeless passion that ever seized the heart of man. (805-806) Additionally Bellamy threatens his own life with a pistol—a move which guarantees Eugenia’s consent (806). In Camilla, excessive male feeling is usually connected to physical violence. The association between violence and male sentimentality seems to depend on the disingenuousness of the sentiment. In her chapter on Camilla, Claudia Johnson links male sentimentality to the assertion of male authority: Having forsaken the “true old way,” modern male authority, by contrast, wins its sway by asserting not its legitimacy as the agent of discipline but its status as the object of pity [. . . .] In Camilla, sentimentality is a more violent affair, in which men gain sway by a passive-aggressive display of susceptibility. (149) 1 Other examples of Bellamy’s strategically sentimental wooing can be found on pages 77, 112-113, 127, 137, 192-193, 312, and 370.


40 Johnson uses Bellamy as the “most conspicuous example” of the use of sentimentality in this manipulative way; his constant expression of passion and threats of suicide gains him control of Eugenia. But Bellamy cannot be charged with true male sentimentality, for he, like Harrel in Cecilia, is preying upon the feelings/sensibility of a female. Certainly, Bellamy does not so much woo Eugenia as blackmail her with his constant false emoting. And it is here that the fortune hunter is at his worst. In order to accomplish his goal of mercenary marriage, Bellamy dons male sentimentality, “aping” better, more truly feeling men like Edgar. What drives Bellamy is the fiscal economy, and using the sentimental economy to accomplish his aims is just the cost of doing business. Male sentimentality, then, proves more problematic when it is put on and taken off like Mrs. Mitten’s aprons. Johnson notes, Bellamy “drop[s] the sentimental mask,” but maintains that Bellamy preserves his effeminacy: “[. . .] even after their marriage he threatens suicide, and such is his underlying effeminacy that he botches his threat and dies accidentally by his own hand” (149). More precisely, Bellamy’s death comes when he is threatening Eugenia’s life and not his own. He proclaims, “I must hold the pistol to your ear” while she vows to ask for money from Sir Hugh [my emphasis] (887). Bellamy’s death comes when, while raising the gun towards Eugenia, he is interrupted by the postillion driver ordering him to “Hold, villain!” Bellamy is trying to hide the weapon from the driver with shaking hands, which results in the accidental discharge of the weapon (887). It is not effeminacy that kills Bellamy, but his outward and direct expression of violence and hasty attempt to conceal his true intentions. Here Burney has created the most fitting end for a fortune hunter—he has yet to cash in when he dies. But


41 it is also a rather fitting end for a false man of feeling; he dies while trying to re-don his “sentimental mask.” Burney’s fortune hunters are incited by the financial gains garnered through well-placed marriages, but far worse are her pimps, family members motivated by the mercenary aspect of marriage. Her pimp figures may well reveal Burney at her toughest. In Cecilia, Harrel, the guardian with whom Cecilia lives, pimps her to at least two different men. His pimping consists of extorting cash and relief of debt from potential suitors in exchange for access to Cecilia. Sir Robert Floyer forgives a sizeable debt of honor Harrel owes him, and Marriot “loans” Harrel 2000 (Cecilia 433-434). Harrel also keeps his creditors at bay by informing them Cecilia will be discharging his debts (Cecilia 435). Cecilia’s heiress status is profitable for Harrel. Harrel is only a surrogate male relative, but Lionel Tyrold is biological kin to Camilla, and a brother acting as pimp is certainly darker. In his chapter “Burney and Debt,” James Thompson argues Burney’s debt-ridden female protagonists underscore the necessity of separate spheres: This narrative of female victimization in the public sphere, followed by safe harbor in the private sphere, reinforces the partition or gendering of social space, situating women ever more firmly and unequivocally in the discourse of domesticity rather than that of political economy. A narrative of prey and debt, in which women are primarily represented as vulnerable to male sexual and financial manipulation and aggression, effectively endorses the sexual contract by insisting that the heroines desperately need male protection. (159) However the female victimization that takes place in Burney’s novels, especially Cecilia and Camilla, originates in the domestic sphere. Cecilia is victimized by her guardian Harrel and by the “family friend” Monckton. James Thompson further argues that it is Cecilia’s “excessive generosity” that depletes her fortune:


42 Yet, when she [Cecilia] is dispossessed of her estate by her cousins, and her household is elaborately undone, she is left with no resources [. . . .] As a consequence, Cecilia’s utopian vision of establishing her own regulated household economy is exactly what none of Burney’s heroines is allowed to achieve. At the catastrophe, abandoned and hysterical, she comes to the complete destitution that her charity was supposed to have relieved in others [. . . .] Her fortune is lost through excessive generosity, albeit a generosity provoked by the prodigality and avarice of others. In effect, Cecilia has to lose two fortunes, the ,000 inherited from her father, and the ,000 estate inherited from her uncle. (161) But Cecilia’s financial problems are created in the domestic sphere. Cecilia uses her father’s estate to save her spendthrift guardian from ruin. She is dispossessed of her uncle’s estate because she has married without meeting the conditions of her uncle’s will. Additionally at the moment of the “catastrophe” she is abandoned. Mortimer, misunderstanding yet again, has run off, and her father-in-law, who is another of Cecilia’s guardians, refuses to offer her shelter or assistance. At the point of crisis, Delvile is still under the impression, because of Monckton’s designs, that Cecilia is involved with Jewish moneylenders. The men who should assume responsibility for protecting the heroine from the dangers of finance and the “outside world” consistently fail to do so, and it is more often the case that their behavior is the catalyst behind female indebtedness. Cecilia is victimized by her foster family, while Camilla is likewise victimized by her brother Lionel. In these “narratives of prey and debt” women are vulnerable to manipulation and aggression, but these heroines desperately need to be protected from the males in their homes. In both Camilla and Cecilia, the heroines’ “happy endings” (i.e. their marriages) are delayed by misunderstandings and debt caused (directly or indirectly) by the familial male. Separate spheres are impossible when the domestic is constantly invaded by the public/economic. Lionel’s pimping begins when he sets the fortune hunters on the “scent” at the assembly. This could be easily dismissed as high jinks, but Lionel grows increasingly


43 violent towards Camilla and decreasingly concerned with her welfare. He constantly exposes his sisters to dangers—physical, social, and moral. Lionel’s behavior towards Camilla in particular gradually worsens. Knowing of Sir Hugh’s affection for her, he repeatedly pressures Camilla to ask for money on his behalf. By using Camilla’s relationship with Sir Hugh to finance his escapades, “You know your influence with my uncle,” Lionel pimps his sister (380). Sir Hugh’s fondness for Camilla is a useful tool for raising cash. But Camilla’s fondness for Lionel is useful as well, ensuring Camilla’s complicity and silence. As Julie Shaffer notes, Lionel “plays on his sister’s filial affections in a matter of money.” This fusion of finance and affection “ultimately contaminates all [Camilla’s] relationships in which finances should play no overt part” (50-51). Lionel’s pimping later in the narrative is more overt. Once Camilla refuses to apply to Sir Hugh for more money, Lionel uses Camilla’s other assets for his financial benefit. Camilla’s eligibility is profitable. When Lionel takes Sir Sedley’s 200 bank note, the acceptance compromises Camilla, leaving her, and not Lionel, indebted to Sir Sedley. Camilla’s “debt” to Sir Sedley will be repaid on the marriage market: Lionel was so enraged at the non-appearance of the young baronet at night, that Camilla was compelled to confess she had promised to see him, and to give him his answer at Mrs. Arlbery’s. He was out of humour, nevertheless, lest Sir Sedley should be affronted by the delay, and feared that the best match in the whole country would prove abortive, from his sister’s foolish trimmings, and silly ignorance of life. (531) The match, of course, is best for Lionel. Lionel presses for this match because he considers his potential brother-in-law’s wealth “nearly at his own disposal” (Camilla 532). Lionel’s attempts to make this financial connection ultimately fail, but this does not stop him from trying to use Camilla’s other relationships for financial gain. Hearing


44 of her engagement to Edgar, he applies to Camilla to “speak a little word” to Edgar on his behalf (735-736). Ironically, it is Lionel’s actions that have caused Camilla and Edgar’s engagement to be called off. In both Cecilia and Camilla, the mercenary motives of the criminal element make companionate marriage for the heroines nearly impossible. With the domestic pimp Burney has made the criminal unavoidable for her heroines. When Evelina was published many readers were amazed by the youthful author’s understanding of human nature; Johnson proclaimed, “Evelina seems a work that should result from long Experience and deep and intimate knowledge of the World; yet it has been written without either” (Journal and Letters 125). Burney’s later novels and journals show she was not insulated from the world, nor was she insulated from “white collar” criminals. The criminal element present in Cecilia (and later omnipresent in Camilla) was embodied during her service with the Royal Family. In her September and October, 1790 journals, while in attendance at Court, Burney relates an incident regarding the estate of her man-servant Columb. On his deathbed, Columb communicates his last will to a friend, bequeathing everything to his sisters (Diary and Letters 4: 420). The estate is being settled according to Columb’s verbal will; however two weeks after his death, Burney is notified that a Peter Bayond has come forward, with a written will, professing to be heir and executor of Columb’s estate. Burney is horrified by this turn of events: I can by no means tell you my astonishment at this Peter Bayond’s attempt, nor my horror at what I was completely convinced must be a forgery. Poor Columb had no possible motive to make such a will in private and in secret; and in public and openly he had repeatedly declared all I have already related. (Diary and Letters 4: 420) The will Bayond produces, which leaves the estate to Bayond and Columb’s cousin James (one of Horace Walpole’s servants), only supports Burney’s theory of its falsity—


45 the will “specified nothing.” Even James Columb, co-heir in the written will, notifies Burney that he believes the will to be false and declines his portion of the estate (Diary and Letters 4: 422). Burney’s attempts to settle the matter fail: “Would you not, now, as have supposed this vexatious business, as far as it regarded me, at an end? No such thing! I had meetings, writings, consultations, torments about it innumerable; and this vile Peter Bayond followed me with incessant menace” (Diary and Letters 4: 426). Eventually Burney approaches her father to hire an attorney, but in the end she must submit to the terms of the forged will to prevent a lawsuit (Diary and Letters 4: 426-7). Burney did not spare her heroines from encountering the criminal element either. Recent Burney criticism has tended to downplay the criminal characters in Burney’s novels, especially Camilla, focusing instead on issues such as Edgar’s surveillance habits and Mr. Tyrold’s famous (or infamous) sermon. Straub, for one, locates the turmoil in Camilla in the paradox of male authority and male weakness: “Camilla’s brother Lionel illustrates the principle of male power as contradicted by its own weakness, in general, through his irresponsible economic exploitation of Camilla” (215). But Lionel is not a weak criminal; Lionel is a rather active and potent criminal. And Lionel is responsible for various criminal enterprises—extortion and pimping. In calling what Lionel does “irresponsible,” Straub actually lessens his criminality. In examining Camilla, Epstein locates the center of the novel in “not writing, not speaking, and misinterpreting,” and contrasts the silence of Burney’s heroines with the dangerous speech of other characters: Extolling forthrightness and assertive speech, Burney paints these characters—Villars and Giles Arbe as well as Sir Hugh and Lionel—as people who trigger, practice, and sustain habits of concealment. None of them is an outright villain [. . .] but all of them are more dangerous to the heroines than the openly condemned


46 villains such as Willoughby and Clarendel, who at least have their charms. Lionel shares some of the villains’ traits, though his conspiracies are not deliberately evil. (142) Classifying Lionel’s actions in Camilla as merely “high spirits” and “not deliberately evil” seems too easy an acquittal. Epstein places Lionel in the nave male category, although she does qualify this categorization by arguing that Lionel “represents a malignant version of Sir Hugh’s navet” (142). With his extortion schemes, debts, gaming, and pimping Lionel is certainly malignant but hardly nave. Lionel’s extortion letters to his maternal uncle are literally criminal, and his manipulations and “teasing machinations” lead to: the absence of Mrs. Tyrold, Camilla’s debt, Camilla’s broken engagement to Edgar, Camilla’s unwanted “attachment” to Sir Sedley, the exposure of his sisters to various fortune hunters—including the abduction and domestic abuse Eugenia suffers at the hands of Bellamy,—Sir Hugh’s bankruptcy (although Clermont shares blame in this), and his father’s insolvency. Lionel and his voice are extremely dangerous. Likewise, Johnson refers to Lionel’s “pimping” (142), but does not elaborate upon it. However she does argue that there is a lack of attention paid to Lionel on Burney’s part: “the massive depredations of Lionel and Clermont, legitimate heirs, receive scant attention” (142). Here I would argue that the “attention” has not been “scant” so much as misdirected. Lionel, Clermont, and the other criminals in Burney’s novels receive scant attention from critics. Of Camilla, Burney noted, “I do not like calling it a novel; it gives so simply the notion of a mere love story, that I recoil from it a little from it. I mean this work to be sketches of characters and morals put in action,—not a romance” (Diary and Letters 5: 264). Burney did not leave out the criminal element. They are always present, driving the narrative and complicating events—like Peter Bayond they are an “incessant


47 menace.” In this respect, Camilla is also sketches of characters without morals put in action. The happy endings of Cecilia and Camilla come only after they navigate through a world of criminals, including those inside the domestic sphere. Evelina’s story is resolved after she survives the presence and absence of profligate fathers. Rakes and criminals—con artists, fortune hunters, and pimps—leave their indelible mark in Burney’s work. And it is the critics and not Burney who consistently fail to fully prosecute these offenders.


LIST OF REFERENCES Barker-Benfield, G.J. The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Blackstone, William, Sir. Commentaries on the Laws of England. 12th ed. Vol.1. London, 1793-1795. Eighteenth Century Books Online. Burney, Frances. Camilla. Ed. Edward Bloom and Lillian Bloom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. . Cecilia. Ed. Peter Sabor and Margaret Anne Doody. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. . Diary and Letters. (The Diary and Letters of Madam d’ Arblay.) Ed. Charlotte Barrett. Preface/ Notes Austin Dobson. 6 vol. London: MacMillan and Co., 1904-1905. . Evelina. Ed. Edward A. Bloom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. . Journal and Letters. Selections and Introduction by Peter Sabor and Lars Troide. London: Penguin, 2001. Davidoff, Leonore and Catherine Hall. Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. Dobson, Austin. Fanny Burney (Madam d’Arblay). London: MacMillan & Co., 1903. Doody, Margaret Ann. Introduction. The Wanderer. By Frances Burney. Ed. Peter Sabor and Margaret Ann Doody. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Epstein, Julia. The Iron Pen: Frances Burney and the Politics of Women’s Writing. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. Finn, Margot. The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture, 1740-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Habakkuk, H.J. “England’s Nobility.” Aristocratic Government and Society in Eighteenth-Century England: The Foundations of Stability. Ed. Daniel A. Baugh. New York, Franklin Watts, Inc., 1975. . “Marriage Settlements in the Eighteenth-Century.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. London: Royal Historical Society, 1950, 4 th ser. 32. 15-30. 48


49 Hemlow, Joyce. The History of Fanny Burney. London: Oxford University Press, 1958. Hoppit, Julian. “The Use and Abuse of Credit in Eighteenth-Century England.” Business Life and Public Policy: Essays in Honour of D.C. Coleman. Eds. Neil McKendrick and R.B. Outhwaite. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Johnson, Claudia. Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790’s. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Jordan, Sarah. The Anxieties of Idleness: Idleness in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2003. Langford, Paul. A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Lemmings, David. “Marriage and the Law in the Eighteenth Century: Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753.” The Historical Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2 (June 1996), 339-360. Malcomson, A.P.W. The Pursuit of the Heiress: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland, 1750-1820. Ulster: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1982. McCrea, Brian. Impotent Fathers: Patriarchy and Demographic Crisis in the Eighteenth-Century Novel. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1998. Robb, George. White Collar Crime in Modern England: Financial Fraud and Business Morality, 1845-1929. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Roberts, Marie Mulvey. “Pleasures Engendered by Gender: Homosociality and the Club.” Pleasure in the Eighteenth Century. Eds. Roy Porter and Marie Mulvey Roberts. New York: New York University Press, 1996. 48-76 Shaffer, Julie. “Romance, Finance, and the Marketable Woman: The Economics of Femininity in Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century English Novels.” Bodily Discursions : Genders, Representations, Technologies. Ed. Deborah S Wilson. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997. 39-56. Spring, Eileen. Law, Land, and Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300-1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993. Stone, Lawrence. The Family, Sex, and Marriage In England 1500-1800. Abr. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. Straub, Kristina. Divided Fictions: Fanny Burney and Feminine Strategy. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1987.


50 Thompson, E.P. “The Crime of Anonymity.” Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England. Eds. Douglas Hay, et al. New York: Pantheon, 1975. Thompson, James. Models of Value: Eighteenth-Century Political Economy and the Novel. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996. Tinker, Chauncey. Introduction. Dr. Johnson & Fanny Burney. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1911. The Whole Art and Mystery of Modern Gaming Fully Exposed and Detected: Containing an Historical Account of all the Secret Abuses Practis’d in the Games of Chance. London: J. Roberts and T. Cox, 1726. Watt, Ian. The Rise of the Novel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH After working for over a decade as a funeral director/embalmer, Rachael Kane resumed studying literature. She received her B.A. in English from Florida International University before coming to the University of Florida. When Rachael completes her Master of Arts in English she will continue her study of eighteenth-century British literature in a Ph.D. program. 51