Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 1, Ch. 20

[+] | [-] | reset

"Indeed, Sir," cried I, very much provoked, "I think-that is, I do not think any thing about her."

"Well, really, Ma'am, you prodigiously surprise me!-mais, apparemment ce n'est qu'une facon de parler? -though I should beg your pardon, for probably you do not understand French?"

I made no answer, for I thought his rudeness intolerable; but Sir Clement, with great warmth, said, "I am surprised that you can suppose such an object as Miss Prue would engage the attention of Miss Anville even for a moment."

"O, Sir," returned this fop, "'tis the first character in the piece!-so well drawn!-so much the thing!-such true country breeding-such rural ignorance! ha, ha, ha!-'tis most admirably hit off, 'pon honour!"

I could almost have cried, that such impertinence should be leveled at me; and yet, chagrined as I was, I could never behold Lord Orville and this man at the same time, and feel any regret for the cause I had given of displeasure.

"The only female in the play," said Lord Orville, "worthy of being mentioned to these ladies is Angelicaw."

"Angelica," cried Sir Clement, "is a noble girl; she tries her lover severely, but she rewards him generously."

"Yet, in a trial so long," said Mrs. Mirvan, "there seems rather too much consciousness of her power."

"Since my opinion has the sanction of Mrs. Mirvan," added Lord Orville, "I will venture to say, that Angelica bestows her hand rather with the air of a benefactress, than with the tenderness of a mistress. Generosity without delicacy, like wit without judgment, generally gives as much pain as pleasure. The uncertainty in which she keeps Valentine, and her manner of trifling with his temper, give no very favourable idea of her own."

"Well, my Lord," said Mr. Lovel, "it must, however, be owned, that uncertainty is not the tonw among our ladies at present; nay, indeed, I think they say,-though faith," taking a pinch of snuff, "I hope it is not true-but they say, that we now are most shy and backward."

The curtain then drew up, and our conversation ceased. Mr. Lovel, finding we chose to attend to the players, left the box. How strange it is, Sir, that this man, not contented with the large share of foppery and nonsense which he has from nature, should think proper to affect yet more! for what he said of Tattle and of Miss Prue, convinced me that he really had listened to the play, though he was so ridiculous and foolish as to pretend ignorance.

But how malicious and impertinent is this creature to talk to me in such a manner! I am sure I hope I shall never see him again. I should have despised him heartily as a fop, had he never spoken to me at all; but now, that he thinks proper to resent his supposed ill-usage, I am really quite afraid of him.

The entertainment was, The Duece is in Himh; which Lord Orville observed to be the most finished and elegant petit piece that was ever written in English.

In our way home, Mrs. Mirvan put me into some consternation by saying, it was evident, from the resentment which this Mr. Lovel harbours of my conduct, that he would think it a provocation sufficiently important for a duel, if his courage equaled his wrath.

I am terrified at the very idea. Good Heaven! that a man so weak and frivolous should be so revengeful! However, if bravery would have excited him to affront Lord Orville, how much reason have I to rejoice that cowardice makes him contended with venting his spleen upon me! But we shall leave town soon, and, I hope, see him no more.

It was some consolation to me to hear from Miss Mirvan, that, while he was speaking to me so cavalierly, Lord Orville regarded him with great indignation.

But, really, I think there ought to be a book of the laws and customs -e;-la-mode, presented to all young people upon their first introduction into public company.

To-night we go to the opera, where I expect very great pleasure. We shall have the same party as at the play, for Lord Orville said he should be there, and would look for us.

X [w] Angelica

Lord Orville's gallant reply to Lovel's insinuation that Evelina is country by linking her, among "these ladies," with Angelica, Congreve's heroine.   

X [w] ton

Manners & Morals

"The fashion, the vogue, the mode; fashionable air or style." OED 


X [h] The Duece is in Him


A farce in two acts by George Colman, the Elder, first performed at Drury Lane in 1763.