Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress (Oxford World's Classics)
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Cecilia is an heiress, but she can only keep her fortune if her husband will consent to take her surname. Fanny Burney's unusual love story and deft social satire was much admired on its first publication in 1782 for its subtle interweaving of comedy, humanity, and social analysis. Controversial in its time, this eighteenth-century novel seems entirely fresh in relation to late twentieth-century concerns.
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vice, and unbounded extravagance as the harbinger of injustice. Long accustomed to see Mrs. Harrel in the same retirement in which she had hitherto lived herself, when books were their first amusement, and the society of each other was their chief happiness, the change she now perceived in her mind and manners equally concerned and surprised her. She found her insensible to friendship, indifferent to her husband, and negligent of all social felicity. Dress, company, parties of pleasure, and
where there’s such a heap of ’em, they commonly think of nothing all day long but standing and gaping at one another.” “I am going out of town tomorrow,” said Cecilia, “and therefore cannot have the pleasure of calling upon Miss Belfield again.” She then slightly curtsied, and left the room. The gentle Henrietta, her eyes swimming in tears, followed her to her chair; but she followed her not alone, Mrs. Belfield also attended, repining very loudly at the unlucky absence of her son: and the
same effects; when she now worked or read, the sight of Fidel by her side distracted her attention; when she walked, it was the same, for Fidel always followed her; and though, in visiting her old acquaintance, she forbore to let him accompany her, she was secretly planning the whole time the contents of some letter, which she expected to meet with, on returning to Mrs. Charlton’s. Those gentlemen in the country who, during the lifetime of the Dean, had paid their addresses to Cecilia, again
fears for his health: calling upon him to participate in her sorrow, and lamenting that even this little relief would soon be denied her; and that in losing Fidel no vestige of Mortimer, but in her own breast, would remain; “Go, then, dear Fidel,” she cried, “carry back to your master all that nourishes his remembrance! Bid him not love you the less for having some time belonged to Cecilia; but never may his proud heart be fed with the vain glory of knowing how fondly for his sake she has
next day, however, more fatal news was brought her, though not from the quarter she expected it: Mr. Monckton, in one of his raving fits, had sent for Lady Margaret to his bed side, and used her almost inhumanly: he had railed at her age and her infirmities with incredible fury, called her the cause of all his sufferings, and accused her as the immediate agent of Lucifer in his present wound and danger. Lady Margaret, whom neither jealousy nor malignity had cured of loving him, was dismayed and