Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 1, Ch. 10

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Letter X

EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS Queen Ann Streeth, London, Saturday,
April 2.

THIS moment arrived. Just going to Drury Lane Theatre. The celebrated Mr. Garrickw performs Ranger. I am quite in ecstasy. So is Miss Mirvan. How fortunate that he should happen to play! We would not let Mrs. Mirvan rest till she consented to go. Her chief objection was to our dress, for we have had no time to Londonize ourselves; but we teased her into compliance, and so we are to sit in some obscure place that she may not be seen. As to me, I should be alike unknown in the most conspicuous or most private part of the house.

I can write no more now. I have hardly time to breathe-only just this, the houses and streets are not quite so superb as I expected. However, I have seen nothing yet, so I ought not to judge.

Well; adieu, my dearest Sir, for the present; I could not forbear writing a few words instantly on my arrival, though I suppose my letter of thanks for your consent is still on the road. Saturday Night.

O, my dear Sir, in what raptures am I returned? Well may Mr. Garrick be so celebrated, so universally admired-I had not any idea of so great a performer.

Such ease! such vivacity in his manner! such grace in his motions! such fire and meaning in his eyes!-I could hardly believe he had studied a written part, for every word seemed to be uttered from the impulse of the moment.

His action-at once so graceful and so free!-his voice-so clear, so melodious, yet so wonderfully various in its tones!-Such animation!-every look speaks!

I would have given the world to have had the whole play acted over again. And when he danced-O, how I envied Clarinda! I almost wished to have jumped on the stage and joined them.

I am afraid you will think me mad, so I won't say any more; yet, I really believe Mr. Garrick would make you mad too if you could see him. I intend to ask Mrs. Mirvan to go to the play every night while we stay in town. She is extremely kind to me; and Maria, her charming daughter, is the sweetest girl in the world.

I shall write to you every evening all that passes in the day, and that in the same manner as, if I could see, I should tell you. Sunday.

This morning we went to Portland chapelh; and afterwards we walked in the mall of St. James's Parkw, which by no means answered my expectations: it is a long straight walk of dirty gravel, very uneasy to the feet; and at each end instead of an open prospect, nothing is to be seen but houses built of brick. When Mrs. Mirvan pointed out the Palacew to me-I think I was never much more surprised.

X [h] Queen Ann Street


Place indicates status in Burney's London and Queen Anne Street near Cavenish Square in Marylebone was a very fashionable neighborhood of fine townhouses built within the last generation as London developed to the west of the old city.   


X [w] Mr. Garrick


David Garrick  (1717-1779) was the premier actor of the mid-century stage from 1741 until his retirement in 1776.  Garrick introduced a more natural acting style to the English stage.  One of his famous comic roles, the rake Ranger, in Benjamin Hoadly's The Suspicious Husband was among his farewell performances from Drury Lane in 1776.  David Garrick was a friend of Dr. Burney and familiar as a guest to the Burney household.  


X [h] Portland chapel


Built in 1764 the Portland chapel retains its novelty into the 1770s.  It would be consecrated as St. Paul's, Great Portland Street in 1831. 


X [w] mall of St. James's Park


A popular place to gather and promenade.  The mall offered an approach to Buckingham House or, as Evelina calls it here, the Palace. 

X [w] Palace


By the 1770s called the Queen's House, Buckingham House built by the Duke of Buckingham in 1705 had been purchased by George III in 1761 for his bride, Queen Charlotte.  Rather more modest than the Buckingham Palace it became after several remodels, it was nonetheless impressive as a large townhouse with grounds.