The present chief sport with Mrs. Thrale is disposing of me in the holy state of matrimony, and she offers me whoever comes to the house. This was begun by Mrs. Montagu, who, it seems, proposed a match for me in my absence, with Sir Joshua Reynolds—no less a man, I assure you!
When I was dressing for dinner, Mrs. Thrale told me that Mr. Crutchley was expected.
“Who’s he?” quoth I.
“A young man of very large fortune, who was a ward of Mr. Thrale. Queeny, what do you say of him for Miss Burney?”
“Him?” cried she; “no, indeed; what has Miss Burney done to have him?”
“Nay, believe me, a man of his fortune may offer himself anywhere. However, I won’t recommend him.”
“Why then, ma’am,” cried I, with dignity, “I reject him!”
This Mr. Crutchley stayed till after breakfast the next morning. I can’t tell you anything, of him, because I neither like nor dislike him. Mr. Crutchley was scarce gone, ere Mr. Smith arrived. Mr. Smith is a second cousin to Mr. Thrale, and a modest pretty sort of young man. He stayed till Friday morning when he was gone.
“What say you to him, Miss Burney?” cried Mrs. Thrale; “I’m sure I offer you variety.”
“Why I like him better than Mr. Crutchley, but I don’t think I shall pine for either of them.”
“Dr. Johnson,” said Mrs. Thrale, “don’t you think Jerry Crutchley very much improved?”
Dr. Johnson: “Yes, madam, I think he is.”
Mrs. T: “Shall he have Miss Burney?”
Dr. J: “Why, I think not; at least I must know more about him; I must inquire into his connections, his recreations, his employments, and his character, from his intimates, before I trust Miss Burney with him. And he must come down very handsomely with a settlement. I will not have him left to his generosity; for as he will marry her for her wit, and she him for his fortune, he ought to bid well, and let him come down with what he will, his price will never be equal to her worth.”
Mrs. T: “She says she likes Mr. Smith better.”
Dr. J: “Yes, but I won’t have her like Mr. Smith without money, better than Mr. Crutchley with it. Besides, if she has Crutchley, he will use her well, to vindicate his choice. The world, madam, has a reasonable claim upon all mankind to account for their conduct; therefore, if with his great wealth, he marries a woman who has but little, he will be more attentive to display her merit, than if she was equally rich,—in order to show that the woman he has chosen deserves from the world all the respect and admiration it can bestow, or that else she would not have been his choice.”
Mrs. T: “I believe young Smith is the better man.”
F.B.: “Well, I won’t be rash in thinking of either; I will take some time for consideration before I fix.”
Dr. J: “Why, I don’t hold it to be delicate to offer marriage to ladies, even in jest, nor do I approve such sort of jocularity; yet for once I must break through the rules of decorum, and propose a match myself for Miss Burney. I therefore nominate Sir J.L.
Mrs. T: “I’ll give you my word, sir, you are not the first to say that, for my master the other morning, when we were alone, said ‘What would I give that Sir J.L. was married to Miss Burney; it might restore him to our family.’” So spoke his Uncle and guardian.
F.B.: “He, he! Ha, ha! He, he! Ha, ha!”
Dr. J: “That was elegantly said of my master, and nobly said, and not in the vulgar way we have been saying it. And madam, where will you find another man in trade who will make such a speech—who will be capable of making such a speech? Well, I am glad my master takes so to Miss Burney; I would have everybody take to Miss Burney, so as they allow me to take to her most! Yet I don’t know whether Sir J.L. should have her, neither; I should be afraid for her; I don’t think I would hand her to him.”
F.B. “Why, now, what a fine match is here broken off!”
Some time after, when we were in the library, he asked me very gravely if I loved reading?
“Yes,” quoth I.
“Why do you doubt it, sir?” cried Mrs. Thrale.
“Because,” answered he, “I never see her with a book in her hand. I have taken notice that she never has been reading whenever I have come into the room.”
“Sir,” quoth I, courageously, “I’m always afraid of being caught reading, lest I should pass for being studious or affected, and therefore instead of making a display of books, I always try to hide them, as is the case at this very time, for I have now your Life of Waller under my gloves behind me. However, since I am piqued to it, I’ll boldly produce my voucher.”
And so saying, I put the book on the table, and opened it with a flourishing air. And then the laugh was on my side, for he could not help making a droll face; and if he had known Kitty Cooke, I would have called out, “There I had you, my lad!”
Burney, Fanny. “Suggested husbands for Fanny Burney.” . Quotidiana. Ed. Patrick Madden. 1 Dec 2006. 25 Apr 2017 <http://essays.quotidiana.org/burney/suggested_husbands_for_fanny_burney/>.
The degree of the degradation of woman is as good a test as the moralist can adopt for ascertaining the state of domestic morals in any country.
It would if it became a general custom, teach both sexes to cultivate the mind and the power of expression in writing more than the beauty of the body and its sexual attraction.
I love to lose myself in other men's minds. When I am not walking, I am reading; I cannot sit and think. Books think for me.
What strange ideas are taken from mere book-reading!
I almost panted with extreme agitation, from the dread either of hearing some horrible criticism, or of being betrayed: and I munched my biscuit as if I had not eaten for a fortnight.