BLTC Press Titles

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Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Diary and letters of Madame d'Arblay

by Fanny Burney



It has been asserted that if any person, however " unknown to fame," should write a journalizing memoir of his own life, in which e very thought and feeling should be faithfully pourtrayed, such a narrative could not fail of being curious and interesting. Yet, considering the satisfaction which most people find in speaking of themselves, it is singular how few specimens of such autobiography exist._

Perhaps their scarcity may arise from a consciousness of the rare assemblage of qualities necessary to their successful production; for the writer should be endowed with candour that shall prompt him to " extenuate nothing,''— honestly setting down his own foibles and mistakes, which are sometimes more mortifying to self-love than graver faults. He should have acumen and penetration, enabling him to unravel his own secret feelings and motives, and to trace each sentiment and action to its source. He should be gifted with " the pen of a ready writer," in order to arrest thoughts and impressions which fade almost as fast as they arise;—and, what is most rare of all, he should possess, however alloyed by human weakness and infirmities, such a predominance of sound principles and virtuous dispositions, as may render it safe to sympathize in his feelings; otherwise his memoir must either corrupt or disgust the reader, by showing

That hideous sight, a naked human heart."

To ensure a full and free narration, it might also be desirable for the memorialist to believe that his pages will meet no eye but that of indulgent friendship; since those who expect their portraits will be handed down to posterity can scarcely resist dressing them in holiday suits.

May we not, however, venture to affirm that all these supposed requisites were united in the case of Madame D'arblay, whose journals and letters are now offered to the public ? As an author she has long been known to the world, and the high place which her works have held in public estimation for more than sixty years, renders criticism and comment superfluous.

Her long and virtuous life is now closed, and those who have derived pleasure and instruction from her publications may feel interested in reading her private journals, and thus becoming acquainted with the merits and peculiarities of her individual character; more especially as the timidity which made her always shrink from observation, confined to the circle of her chosen friends that knowledge of her intimate feelings and real excellence which won in no common degree their respect and love. We would also hope there may be a moral use in presenting the example of one who, being early exalted to fame and literary distinction, yet found her chief happiness in the discharge of domestic duties, and in the friendships and attachments of private life.

Frances Borxey, the second daughter and third child of Dr. Burney, was born at Lynn Regis in Norfolk, on the 13th of June, 1752. Her father had in the precedingyear accepted the office of Organist to that royal borough, having been obliged by ill health to quit London, and to relinquish more advantageous prospects.

The most remarkable features of Frances Burners childhood were, her extreme shyness, and her backwardness at learning; at eight years of age, she did not even know her letters, and her elder brother used to amuse himself by pretending to teach her to read, and presenting the book to her, turned upside down,—which he declared she never found out. Her mother's friends generally gave her the name of " the little dunce ;" but her mother, more discerning as well as more indulgent, always replied, that " she had no fear about Fanny."

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