HotFreeBooks.com
The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood
by George Frisbie Whicher
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

THE LIFE AND ROMANCES OF

MRS. ELIZA HAYWOOD

BY

GEORGE FRISBIE WHICHER, PH.D.

INSTRUCTOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

1915



This Monograph has been approved by the Department of English and Comparative Literature in Columbia University as a contribution to knowledge worthy of publication.

A. H. THORNDIKE,

Executive Officer



PREFACE

The purpose of the following study is not to revive the reputation of a forgotten author or to suggest that Mrs. Haywood may yet "come into her own." For the lover of eighteenth century fashions her numerous pages have indeed a stilted, early Georgian charm, but with the passing of Ramillies wigs and velveteen small-clothes the popularity of her novels vanished once for all. She had her world in her time, but that world and time disappeared with the French Revolution [a]. Now even professed students of the novel shrink from reading many of her seventy odd volumes, nor can the infamous celebrity conferred by Pope's attack in "The Dunciad" save her name from oblivion. But the significance of Mrs. Haywood's contributions cannot safely be ignored. Her romances of palpitating passion written between 1720 and 1730 formed a necessary complement to Defoe's romances of adventure exactly as her Duncan Campbell pamphlets supplied the one element lacking in his. The domestic novels of her later life foreshadowed the work of Miss Burney and Miss Austen, while her career as a woman of letters helped to open a new profession to her sex. Since even the weakest link in the development of a literary form is important, I have endeavored to provide future historians of English fiction with a compact and accurate account of this pioneer "lady novelist."

Hitherto the most complete summary of Mrs. Haywood's life and writings has been Sir Sidney Lee's article in the "Dictionary of National Biography," which adds much information not found in the earlier notices in Baker's "Biographia Dramatica" and Chalmers' "Biographical Dictionary." The experienced palates of Mr. Edmund Gosse and Mr. Austin Dobson have tested the literary qualities respectively of the earlier and later aspects of her work. Professor Walter Raleigh, Dr. Charlotte E. Morgan, and Professor Saintsbury have briefly estimated the importance of her share in the change from romance to novel.

Perhaps the main reason for the inadequacy of these notices lies in the fact that no one library contains anything like a complete collection of Mrs. Haywood's innumerable books. In pursuit of odd items I have ransacked the British Museum, the Bodleian, and several minor literary museums in England, and in America the libraries of Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Brown Universities, the Peabody Institute, and the University of Chicago. The search has enabled me to correct many inaccuracies in Miss Morgan's tentative list of prose fiction and even to supplement Mr. Esdaile's admirable "List of English Tales and Prose Romances printed before 1740," which mentions only works now extant in British libraries.

In the Bibliography I have adopted an alphabetical arrangement as most convenient for ready reference. Under the various editions of each book I have referred to libraries, English or American, where copies are to be found. Or when no copy was to be had, I have referred to advertisements, either in the newspapers of the Burney Collection, in the "Gentleman's Magazine," the "Monthly," or the "Critical," or in the catalogues of modern booksellers. In the Chronological List I have dated each work from the earliest advertisement of its publication.

Naturally I have incurred obligations to scholars who have previously passed over the same little-cultivated territory. Mr. Arundell Esdaile of the British Museum staff both facilitated the course of my investigations in England by valuable suggestions and cheered it by his cordial hospitality. To Professors R.P. Utter of Amherst, J.M. Clapp of Lake Forest College, A.H. Upham of Miami University, and A.H. Thorndike of Columbia I am indebted for friendly advice, encouragement, and helpful criticism. And above all my thanks are due to Professor W.P. Trent, whose love of eighteenth century letters suggested the subject of this research, whose sage and kindly supervision fostered the work through every stage in its development, and for whose forthcoming "Life and Times of Daniel Defoe" this monograph is intended as a footnote.

G.F.W.

URBANA, ILLINOIS.

[a] Through the kindness of Professor J.M. Clapp I am provided with the following evidence of the decline of Eliza Haywood's popularity. In W. Bent's General Catalogue of Books (1786) fourteen of her productions are advertised, namely: Works, 4 vols; Clementina; Dalinda; Epistles for the Ladies; La Belle Assemblee; Female Spectator; Fortunate Foundlings; Fruitless Enquiry; Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy; Betsy Thoughtless; The Husband; Invisible Spy; Life's Progress through the Passions; Virtuous Villager. In 1791 only four—Clementina; Dalinda; Female Spectator; Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy—appeared in Bent's London Catalogue, and of these the first two had fallen in value from 3/6 to 3 shillings.



CONTENTS

I. ELIZA HAYWOOD'S LIFE

II. SHORT ROMANCES OF PASSION

III. THE DUNCAN CAMPBELL PAMPHLETS

IV. SECRET HISTORIES AND SCANDAL NOVELS

V. THE HEROINE OF "THE DUNCIAD"

VI. LETTERS AND ESSAYS

VII. LATER FICTION: THE DOMESTIC NOVEL

VIII. CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST

INDEX



THE LIFE AND ROMANCES OF MRS. ELIZA HAYWOOD



CHAPTER I

ELIZA HAYWOOD'S LIFE

Autobiography was almost the only form of writing not attempted by Eliza Haywood in the course of her long career as an adventuress in letters. Unlike Mme de Villedieu or Mrs. Manley she did not publish the story of her life romantically disguised as the Secret History of Eliza, nor was there One of the Fair Sex (real or pretended) to chronicle her "strange and surprising adventures" or to print her passion-stirring epistles, as had happened with Mrs. Aphra Behn's fictitious exploits and amorous correspondence[1]. Indeed the first biographer of Mrs. Haywood[2] hints that "from a supposition of some improper liberties being taken with her character after death by the intermixture of truth and falsehood with her history," the apprehensive dame had herself suppressed the facts of her life by laying a "solemn injunction on a person who was well acquainted with all the particulars of it, not to communicate to any one the least circumstance relating to her." The success of her precaution is evident in the scantiness of our information about her. The few details recorded in the "Biographia Dramatica" can be amplified only by a tissue of probabilities. Consequently Mrs. Haywood's one resemblance to Shakespeare is the obscurity that covers the events of her life.

She was born in London, probably in 1693, and her father, a man by the name of Fowler, was a small shop-keeper.[3] She speaks vaguely of having received an education beyond that afforded to the generality of her sex. Her marriage to Valentine Haywood,[4] a clergyman at least fifteen years older than his spouse, took place before she was twenty, for the Register of St. Mary Aldermary records on 3 December, 1711, the christening of Charles, son of Valentine Haywood, clerk, and Elizabeth his wife. Her husband held at this time a small living in Norfolk, and had recently been appointed lecturer of St. Mathews, Friday Street. Whether the worthy cleric resided altogether in London and discharged his duties in the country by proxy, or whether Mrs. Haywood, like Tristram Shandy's mother, enjoyed the privilege of coming to town only on certain interesting occasions, are questions which curious research fails to satisfy. At any rate, one of the two children assigned to her by tradition was born, as we have seen, in London.

No other manifestation of their nuptial happiness appeared until 7 January, 1721, on which date the "Post Boy" contained an Advertisement of the elopement of Mrs. Eliz. Haywood, wife of Rev. Valentine Haywood.[5] The causes of Eliza's flight are unknown. Our only knowledge of her temperament in her early life comes from a remark by Nichols that the character of Sappho in the "Tatler"[6] may be "assigned with ...probability and confidence, to Mrs. Elizabeth Heywood, who ...was in all respects just such a character as is exhibited here." Sappho is described by Steele as "a fine lady, who writes verses, sings, dances, and can say and do whatever she pleases, without the imputation of any thing that can injure her character; for she is so well known to have no passion but self-love, or folly but affectation, that now, upon any occasion, they only cry, 'It is her way!' and 'That is so like her!' without farther reflection." She quotes a "wonderfully just" passage from Milton, calls a licentious speech from Dryden's "State of Innocence" an "odious thing," and says "a thousand good things at random, but so strangely mixed, that you would be apt to say, all her wit is mere good luck, and not the effect of reason and judgment." In the second paper Sappho quotes examples of generous love from Suckling and Milton, but takes offence at a letter containing some sarcastic remarks on married women. We know that Steele was personally acquainted with Mrs. Manley, and it is possible that he knew Mrs. Haywood, since she later dedicated a novel to him. With some reservation, then, we may accept this sketch as a fair likeness. As a young matron of seventeen or eighteen she was evidently a lively, unconventional, opinionated gadabout fond of the company of similar She-romps, who exchanged verses and specimen letters with the lesser celebrities of the literary world and perpetuated the stilted romantic traditions of the Matchless Orinda and her circle. A woman of her independence of mind, we may imagine, could not readily submit to the authority of an arbitrary, orthodox clergyman husband.

Mrs. Haywood's writings are full of the most lively scenes of marital infelicity due to causes ranging from theological disputes to flagrant licentiousness. Her enemies were not so charitable as to attribute her flight from her husband to any reason so innocent as incompatibility of temper or discrepancy of religious views. The position of ex-wife was neither understood nor tolerated by contemporary society. In the words of a favorite quotation from "Jane Shore":

"But if weak Woman chance to go astray, If strongly charm'd she leave the thorny Way, And in the softer Paths of Pleasure stray, Ruin ensues, Reproach and endless Shame; And one false Step entirely damns her Fame: In vain, with Tears, the Loss she may deplore, In vain look back to what she was before, She sets, like Stars that fall, to rise no more!"

Eliza Haywood, however, after leaving the thorny way of matrimony, failed to carry out the laureate's metaphor. Having less of the fallen star in her than Mr. Rowe imagined, and perhaps more of the hen, she refused to set, but resolutely faced the world, and in spite of all rules of decorum, tried to earn a living for herself and her two children, if indeed as Pope's slander implies, she had children to support.

The ways in which a woman could win her bread outside the pale of matrimony were extremely limited. A stage career, connected with a certain degree of infamy, had been open to the sex since Restoration times, and writing for the theatre had been successfully practiced by Mrs. Behn, Mrs. Manley, Mrs. Centlivre, Mrs. Pix, and Mrs. Davys. The first two female playwrights mentioned had produced beside their dramatic works a number of pieces of fiction, and Mrs. Mary Hearne, Mrs. Jane Barker, and Mrs. Sarah Butler had already gained a milder notoriety as romancieres. Poetry, always the elegant amusement of polite persons, had not yet proved profitable enough to sustain a woman of letters. Eliza Haywood was sufficiently catholic in her taste to attempt all these means of gaining reputation and a livelihood, and tried in addition a short-lived experiment as a publisher. Beside these literary pursuits we know not what obscure means for support she may have found from time to time.

Her first thought, however, was apparently of the theatre, where she had already made her debut on the stage of the playhouse in Smock Alley (Orange Street), Dublin during the season of 1715, as Chloe in "Timon of Athens; or, the Man-Hater."[7] One scans the dramatis personae of "Timon" in vain for the character of Chloe, until one recalls that the eighteenth century had no liking for Shakespeare undefiled. The version used by the Theatre Royal was, of course, the adaptation by Thomas Shadwell, in which Chloe appears chiefly in Acts II and III as the maid and confidant of the courtesan Melissa. Both parts were added by Og. The role of Cleon was taken by Quin, later an interpreter of Mrs. Haywood's own plays. But if she formed a connection with either of the London theatres after leaving her husband, the engagement was soon broken off, and her subsequent appearances as an actress in her comedy of "A Wife to be Lett" (1723) and in Hatchett's "Rival Father" (1730) were due in the one case to an accident and in the other to her friendship for the playwright.

She herself, according to the "Biographia Dramatica," when young "dabbled in dramatic poetry; but with no great success." The first of her plays, a tragedy entitled "The Fair Captive," was acted the traditional three times at Lincoln's Inn Fields, beginning 4 March, 1721.[8] Aaron Hill contributed a friendly epilogue. Quin took the part of Mustapha, the despotic vizier, and Mrs. Seymour played the heroine. On 16 November it was presented a fourth time for the author's benefit,[9] then allowed to die. Shortly after the first performance the printed copy made its appearance. In the "Advertisement to the Reader" Mrs. Haywood exposes the circumstances of her turning playwright, naively announcing:

"To attempt any thing in Vindication of the following Scenes, wou'd cost me more Time than the Composing 'em took me up...

"This Tragedy was originally writ by Capt. Hurst, and by him deliver'd to Mr. Rich, to be acted soon after the opening of the New House;[10] but the Season being a little too far elaps'd for the bringing it on then, and the Author oblig'd to leave the Kingdom, Mr. Rich became the Purchaser of it, and the Winter following order'd it into Rehearsal: but found it so unfit for Representation, that for a long time he laid aside all thoughts of making any thing of it, till last January he gave me the History of his Bargain, and made me some Proposals concerning the new modelling it: but however I was prevail'd upon, I cannot say my Inclination had much share in my Consent.... On Reading, I found I had much more to do than I expected; every Character I was oblig'd to find employment for, introduce one entirely new, without which it had been impossible to have guessed at the Design of the Play; and in fine, change the Diction so wholly, that, excepting in the Parts of Alphonso and Isabella, there remains not twenty lines of the Original."

The plot, which is too involved to be analyzed, centers about the efforts of Alphonso to redeem his beloved Isabella from, the harem of the Vizier Mustapha. Spaniards, Turks, keepers and inhabitants of the harem, and a "young lady disguis'd in the habit of an Eunuch," mingle in inextricable intrigue. Some of the worst absurdities and the most bathetic lines occur in the parts of the two lovers for which Mrs. Haywood disclaims responsibility, but even the best passages of the play add nothing to the credit of the reviser. Her next dramatic venture was produced after her novels had gained some vogue with the town, as the Prologue spoken by Mr. Theophilus Cibber indicates.

"Criticks! be dumb tonight—no Skill display; A dangerous Woman-Poet wrote the Play: ... Measure her Force, by her known Novels, writ With manly Vigour, and with Woman's wit. Then tremble, and depend, if ye beset her, She, who can talk so well, may act yet better."

The fair success achieved by "A Wife to be Lett: A Comedy," acted at Drury Lane three times, commencing 12 August, 1723,[11] is said to have been due largely to the curiosity of the public to see the author, who by reason of the indisposition of an actress performed in person the part of the wife, Mrs. Graspall, a character well suited to her romping disposition. It is difficult to imagine how the play could have succeeded on its own merits, for the intricacies of the plot tax the attention even of the reader. A certain Ann Minton, however, revived the piece in the guise of "The Comedy of a Wife to be Lett, or, the Miser Cured, compressed into Two Acts" (1802).

Apparently the reception of her comedy was not sufficiently encouraging to induce Mrs. Haywood to continue writing plays, for six years elapsed before she made a third effort in dramatic writing with a tragedy entitled, "Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh," which was first produced at Lincoln's Inn Fields on 4 March, 1729,[12] and shortly afterward published with a dedication to Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales. The intention of the dedication was obviously to bid for royal patronage, but the intended victim was too astute to be caught. In eulogizing the Emperor Frederick (c. 1400) the author found abundant opportunity to praise by implication his namesake, but unfortunately for the success of the play none of the royal family "vouchsafed to honour it with their Presence." Mrs. Haywood complains that hers "was the only new Performance this Season, which had not received a Sanction from some of that illustrious Line," and the "unthinking Part of the Town" followed the fashion set by royalty. Unlike "The Fair Captive," which suffered from a plethora of incidents, Mrs. Haywood's second tragedy contains almost nothing in its five acts but rant. An analysis of the plot is but a summary of conversations.

Act I. The German princes hail Frederick, recently elected Emperor. Count Waldec and Ridolpho, in league with the Archbishop of Metz, conspire against him. Waldec urges his sister Adelaid to marry the gallant Wirtemberg. Sophia, her woman and confidant, also urges her to marry, but Adelaid can only reply, "I charge thee Peace, Nor join such distant Sounds as Joy and Wirtemberg," and during the rest of the act proclaims the anguish inspired by her unrequited passion for Frederick, married three years before to a Saxon princess.

Act II. The conspirators plan to kill Frederick. Adelaid reproaches him for abandoning her. He welcomes his imperial consort, Anna, and takes occasion to deliver many magnanimous sentiments.

Act III. Adelaid declares that she cannot love Wirtemberg. Waldec excites the impatient lover to jealousy of Frederick. Ridolpho is banished court for murder.

Act IV. Frederick is distressed by Wirtemberg's discontent. The Empress, seeking to learn the reason for it, is infected by Wirtemberg's suspicions. Adelaid overhears Ridolpho and Waldec plotting to slay Frederick, but hesitates to accuse her own brother. Wirtemberg reproaches her for her supposed yielding to Frederick, and resolves to leave her forever.

Act V. Adelaid, in order to warn him, sends to ask the Emperor to visit her. Waldec intercepts the letter and resolves to murder Frederick in her chamber. Wirtemberg learns that he has been duped and defends the Emperor. Waldec and Ridolpho are killed, though not before they succeed in mortally wounding Frederick, who dies amid tears.

Genest says with truth that the love scenes are dull, and that the subject is not well calculated for dramatic representation. The play was acted only the usual three times, and fully deserved the deep damnation of its taking off.

In 1730 Mrs. Haywood took part in the "Rival Father, or the Death of Achilles," written by her friend, the actor and playwright William Hatchett, and performed at the Haymarket.[13] Three years later she joined with him to produce an adaptation of Fielding's "Tragedy of Tragedies, or the Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great" on the model of Gay's popular "Beggar's Opera." The "Opera of Operas" follows its original closely with a number of condensations and omissions. Almost the only additions made by the collaborators were the short lyrics, which were set to music by the ingenious Mr. Frederick Lampe.[14] The Hatchett-Haywood version was acted at the Haymarket on 31 May, 1733, and according to Genest, was repeated eleven times at least with Mrs. Clive as Queen Dollalolla.[15] It was published immediately. On 9 November a performance was given at Drury Lane. Although unusually successful, it was Mrs. Haywood's last dramatic offering.[16]

The aspiring authoress apparently never found in dramatic writing a medium suitable to her genius, and even less was she attracted by a stage career. The reasons for her abandoning the theatre to develop her powers as a writer of fiction are stated in a characteristic letter still filed among the State Papers.[17]

Sir

The Stage not answering my Expectation, and the averseness of my Relations to it, has made me Turn my Genius another Way; I have Printed some Little things which have mett a Better Reception then they Deservd, or I Expected: and have now Ventur'd on a Translation to be done by Subscription, the Proposalls whereof I take the Liberty to send You: I have been so much us'd to Receive favours from You that I can make No Doubt of y'r forgiveness for this freedom, great as it is, and that You will alsoe become one of those Persons, whose Names are a Countenance to my undertaking. I am mistress of neither words nor happy Turn of thought to Thank You as I ought for the many Unmeritted favours You have Conferr'd on me, but beg You to believe all that a gratefull Soul can feel, mine does who am Sir

Yo'r most humble & most Obedient Serv't

ELIZA HAYWOOD.

August ye 5th 1720

Enclosed with the letter were "Proposals For Printing by Subscription A Translation from the French of the Famous Monsieur Bursault Containing Ten Letters from a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier."[18] The work thus heralded was published in the latter part of 1720 by subscription— "three shillings each Book in Quires, or five Shillings bound in Calf, Gilt Back"—a method never again employed by Mrs. Haywood, though in this case it must have succeeded fairly well. Three hundred and nine names appeared on her list of subscribers, of which one hundred and twenty-three were women's. Few subscribers of either sex were distinguished. There were, however, that universal patron of minor authors, George Bubb, Esq., later the Doddington to whom Thomson dedicated his "Summer"; Mrs. Barker, the novelist; Aaron Hill; a Mr. Osborne, possibly the bookseller whose name was afterward infamously connected with Eliza's in "The Dunciad"; Charles de La Faye, the under-secretary of state with whom Defoe corresponded; and a sprinkling of aristocratic titles.

The publisher of the letters was William Rufus Chetwood, later the prompter at Drury Lane Theatre, but then just commencing bookseller at the sign of Cato's Head, Covent Garden. He had already brought out for Mrs. Haywood the first effort of her genius, a romantic tale entitled "Love in Excess: or, the Fatal Enquiry." We have the author's testimony that the three parts "mett a Better Reception then they Deservd," and indeed the piece was extraordinarily successful, running through no less than six separate editions before its inclusion in her collected "Secret Histories, Novels and Poems" in 1725. On the last page of "Letters from a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier" Chetwood had also advertised for speedy publication "a Book entitled, The Danger of giving way to Passion, in Five Exemplary Novels: First, The British Recluse, or the Secret History of Cleomira, supposed dead. Second, The Injur'd Husband, or the Mistaken Resentment. Third, Lasselia, or the Unfortunate Mistress. Fourth, The Rash Resolve, or the Untimely Discovery. Fifth, Idalia, or the Self-abandon'd.[19] Written by Mrs. Eliza Haywood." During the next three years the five novels were issued singly by Chetwood with the help of other booksellers, usually Daniel Browne, Jr., and Samuel Chapman. This pair, or James Roberts, Chetwood's successor, published most of Mrs. Haywood's early writings. The staple of her output during the first decade of authorship was the short amatory romance like "Love in Excess" and the "exemplary novels" just mentioned. These exercises in fiction were evidently composed currente calamo, with little thought and less revision, for an eager and undiscriminating public. Possibly, as Mr. Gosse conjectures,[20] they were read chiefly by milliners and other women on the verge of literacy. But though persons of solid education avoided reading novels and eastern tales as they might the drinking of drams, it is certain that no one of scanty means could have afforded Mrs. Haywood's slender octavos at the price of one to three shillings. The Lady's Library ("Spectator" No. 37) containing beside numerous romances "A Book of Novels" and "The New Atalantis, with a Key to it," which last Lady Mary Montagu also enjoyed, and the dissolute country-gentleman's daughters ("Spectator" No. 128) who "read Volumes of Love-Letters and Romances to their Mother," a ci-devant coquette, give us perhaps a more accurate idea of the woman novelist's public. Doubtless Mrs. Haywood's wares were known to the more frothy minds of the polite world and to the daughters of middle-class trading families, such as the sisters described in Defoe's "Religious Courtship," whose taste for fashionable plays and novels was soon to call the circulating library into being.

Beside the proceeds arising from the sale of her works, Mrs. Haywood evidently expected and sometimes received the present of a guinea or so in return for a dedication. Though patrons were not lacking for her numerous works, it does not appear that her use of their names was always authorized. In putting "The Arragonian Queen" under the protection of Lady Frances Lumley, in fact, the author confessed that she had not the happiness of being known to the object of her praise, but wished to be the first to felicitate her publicly upon her nuptials. We may be sure that the offering of "Frederick, Duke of Brunswick- Lunenburgh" to the hero's namesake, Frederick, Prince of Wales, was both unsanctioned and unacknowledged. Sometimes, however, the writer's language implies that she had already experienced the bounty of her patron, while in the case of the novel dedicated to Sir Richard Steele at a time when his health and credit were fast giving way, Eliza can hardly be accused of interested motives. Apparently sincere, too, though addressed to a wealthy widow, was the tribute to Lady Elizabeth Germain prefixed to "The Fruitless Enquiry"; and at least one other of Mrs. Haywood's productions is known to have been in Lady Betty's library. But these instances are decidedly exceptional. Usually the needy novelist's dedications were made up of servile adulation and barefaced begging. With considerable skill in choosing a favorable moment she directed a stream of panegyric upon William Yonge (later Sir) within two months after his appointment as one of the commissioners of the treasury in Great Britain. Soon after Sir Thomas Lombe was made a knight, the wife of that rich silk weaver had the pleasure of seeing her virtues and her new title in print. And most remarkable of all, Lady Elizabeth Henley, who eloped with a rake early in 1728, received Mrs. Haywood's congratulations upon the event in the dedication of "The Agreeable Caledonian," published in June, though if we may trust Mrs. Delany's account of the matter, the bride must already have had time for repentance. Even grief, the specialist in the study of the passions knew, might loosen the purse strings, and accordingly she took the liberty to condole with Col. Stanley upon the loss of his wife while entreating his favor for "The Masqueraders." But of all her dedications those addressed to her own sex were the most melting, and from their frequency were evidently the most fruitful.

The income derived from patronage, however, was at best uncertain and necessitated many applications. To the public, moreover, a novel meant nothing if not something new. Eliza Haywood's productiveness, therefore, was enormous. When she had settled to her work, the authoress could produce little pieces, ranging from sixty to nearly two hundred pages in length, with extraordinary rapidity. In 1724, for instance, a year of tremendous activity, she rushed into print no less than ten original romances, beside translating half of a lengthy French work, "La Belle Assemblee" by Mme de Gomez. At this time, too, her celebrity had become so great that "The Prude, a Novel, written by a Young Lady" was dedicated to her, just as Mrs. Hearne at the beginning of her career had put a romance, "The Lover's Week," under the protection of the famous Mrs. Manley. Between 1720 and 1730 Mrs. Haywood wrote, beside plays and translations, thirty-eight works of her own composing, one in two stout volumes and several in two or more parts. If we may judge by the number and frequency of editions, most of the indefatigable scribbler's tales found a ready sale, while the best of them, such as "Idalia" (1723), "The Fatal Secret" (1724), "The Mercenary Lover" (1726), "The Fruitless Enquiry" and "Philidore and Placentia" (1727), gained for her not a little applause.

Nor was the young adventuress in letters unhailed by literary men. Aaron Hill immediately befriended her by writing an epilogue for her first play and another of Hill's circle, the irresponsible Richard Savage, attempted to "paint the Wonders of Eliza's Praise" in verses prefixed to "Love in Excess" and "The Rash Resolve" (1724).[21]

Along with Savage's first complimentary poem were two other effusions, in one of which an "Atheist to Love's Power" acknowledged his conversion through the force of Eliza's revelation of the tender passion, while the other expressed with less rapture the same idea. But it remained for James Sterling, the friend of Concanen, to state most vigorously the contemporary estimate of Mrs. Haywood and her early writings.[22] "Great Arbitress of Passion!" he exclaims,

"Persuasion waits on all your bright Designs, And where you point the varying Soul inclines: See! Love and Friendship, the fair Theme inspires We glow with Zeal, we melt in soft Desires! Thro' the dire Labyrinth of Ills we share The kindred Sorrows of the gen'rous Pair; Till, pleas'd, rewarded Vertue we behold, Shine from the Furnace pure as tortur'd Gold:"

of Love in Excess, Part II, and at the front of each successive edition, have never been reprinted. [Transcriber's note: wording in original.] A specimen of his praise follows,

"Thy Prose in sweeter Harmony refines, Than Numbers flowing thro' the Muse's Lines; What Beauty ne'er could melt, thy Touches fire, And raise a Musick that can Love inspire; Soul-thrilling Accents all our Senses wound, And strike with Softness, whilst they charm with Sound! When thy Count pleads, what Fair his Suit can fly? Or when thy Nymph laments, what Eyes are dry? Ev'n Nature's self in Sympathy appears, Yields Sigh for Sigh, and melts in equal Tears; For such Descriptions thus at once can prove The Force of Language, and the Sweets of Love. You sit like Heav'n's bright Minister on High, Command the throbbing Breast, and watry Eye, And, as our captive Spirits ebb and flow, Smile at the Tempests you have rais'd below: The Face of Guilt a Flush of Vertue wears, And sudden burst the involuntary Tears: Honour's sworn Foe, the Libertine with Shame, Descends to curse the sordid lawless Flame; The tender Maid here learns Man's various Wiles, Rash Youth, hence dread the Wanton's venal Smiles— Sure 'twas by brutal Force of envious Man, First Learning's base Monopoly began; He knew your Genius, and refus'd his Books, Nor thought your Wit less fatal than your Looks. Read, proud Usurper, read with conscious Shame, Pathetic Behn, or Mauley's greater Name; Forget their Sex, and own when Haywood writ, She clos'd the fair Triumvirate of Wit; Born to delight as to reform the Age, She paints Example thro' the shining Page; Satiric Precept warms the moral Tale, And Causticks burn where the mild Balsam fails; [sic] A Task reserv'd for her, to whom 'tis given, To stand the Proxy of vindictive Heav'n!"

Amid the conventional extravagance of this panegyric exist some useful grains of criticism. One of the most clearly expressed and continually reiterated aims of prose fiction, as of other species of writing from time immemorial, was that of conveying to the reader a moral through the agreeable channel of example. This exemplary purpose, inherited by eighteenth century novelists from Cervantes and from the French romances, was asserted again and again in Mrs. Haywood's prefaces,[23] while the last paragraphs of nearly all her tales were used to convey an admonition or to proclaim the value of the story as a "warning to the youth of both sexes." To modern readers these pieces seem less successful illustrations of fiction made didactic, than of didacticism dissolved and quite forgot in fiction, but Sterling and other eulogists strenuously supported the novelist's claim to moral usefulness.[24] The pill of improvement supposed to be swallowed along with the sweets of diversion hardly ever consisted of good precepts and praiseworthy actions, but usually of a warning or a horrible example of what to avoid.[25] As a necessary corollary, the more striking and sensational the picture of guilt, the more efficacious it was likely to prove in the cause of virtue. So in the Preface to "Lasselia" (1723), published to "remind the unthinking Part of the World, how dangerous it is to give way to Passion," the writer hopes that her unexceptionable intent "will excuse the too great Warmth, which may perhaps appear in some particular Pages; for without the Expression being invigorated in some measure proportionate to the Subject, 'twou'd be impossible for a Reader to be sensible how far it touches him, or how probable it is that he is falling into those Inadvertencies which the Examples I relate wou'd caution him to avoid." As a woman, too, Mrs. Haywood was excluded from "Learning's base Monopoly," but not from an intuitive knowledge of the passions, in which respect the sex were, and are, thought the superiors of insensible man.[26] Consequently her chief excellence in the opinion of her readers lay in that power to "command the throbbing Breast and watry Eye" previously recognized by the Volunteer Laureate and her other admirers. She could tell a story in clear and lively, if not always correct and elegant English, and she could describe the ecstasies and agonies of passion in a way that seemed natural and convincing to an audience nurtured on French romans a longue haleine and heroic plays. Unworthy as they may seem when placed beside the subsequent triumphs of the novel, her short romances nevertheless kept alive the spirit of idealistic fiction and stimulated an interest in the emotions during an age when even poetry had become the handmaid of reason.

But although Eliza had few rivals as an "arbitress of the passions," she did not enjoy an equal success as the "proxy of vindictive heaven." When she attempted to apply the caustic of satire instead of the mild balsam of moral tales, she speedily made herself enemies. From the very first indeed she had been persecuted by those who had an inveterate habit of detecting particular persons aimed at in the characters of her fictions,[27] and even without their aspersions her path was sufficiently hard.

"It would be impossible to recount the numerous Difficulties a Woman has to struggle through in her Approach to Fame: If her Writings are considerable enough to make any Figure in the World, Envy pursues her with unweary'd Diligence; and if, on the contrary, she only writes what is forgot, as soon as read, Contempt is all the Reward, her Wish to please, excites; and the cold Breath of Scorn chills the little Genius she has, and which, perhaps, cherished by Encouragement, might, in Time, grow to a Praise-worthy Height."[28]

Unfortunately the cold breath of scorn, though it may have stunted her genius, could not prevent it from bearing unseasonable fruit. Her contributions to the Duncan Campbell literature, "A Spy upon the Conjurer" (1724) and "The Dumb Projector" (1725), in which the romancer added a breath of intrigue to the atmosphere of mystery surrounding the wizard, opened the way for more notorious appeals to the popular taste for personal scandal. In the once well known "Memoirs of a Certain Island adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia" (1725-6) and the no less infamous "Secret History of the Present Intrigues of the Court of Carimania" (1727) Mrs. Haywood found a fit repertory for daringly licentious gossip of the sort made fashionable reading by Mrs. Manley's "Atalantis." But though the romans a clef of Mrs. Haywood, like the juvenile compositions of Mr. Stepney, might well have "made grey authors blush," her chief claim to celebrity undoubtedly depends upon her inclusion in the immortal ranks of Grubstreet. Her scandal novels did not fail to arouse the wrath of persons in high station, and Alexander Pope made of the writer's known, though never acknowledged connection with pieces of the sort a pretext for showing his righteous zeal in the cause of public morality and his resentment of a fancied personal insult. The torrent of filthy abuse poured upon Eliza in "The Dunciad" seems to have seriously damaged her literary reputation. During the next decade she wrote almost nothing, and after her curious allegorical political satire in the form of a romance, the "Adventures of Eovaai" (1736), the authoress dropped entirely out of sight. For six years no new work came from her pen. What she was doing during this time remains a puzzle. She could hardly have been supported by the rewards of her previous labors, for the gains of the most successful novelists at this period were small. If she became a journalist or turned her energies toward other means of making a livelihood, no evidence of the fact has yet been discovered. It is possible that (to use the current euphemism) 'the necessity of her affairs may have obliged her to leave London and even England until creditors became less insistent. There can be little doubt that Mrs. Haywood visited the Continent at least once, but the time of her going is uncertain.[29]

When she renewed her literary activity in 1742 with a translation of "La Paysanne Parvenue" by the Chevalier de Mouhy, Mrs. Haywood did not depend entirely upon her pen for support. A notice at the end of the first volume of "The Virtuous Villager, or Virgin's Victory," as her work was called, advertised "new books sold by Eliza Haywood, Publisher, at the Sign of Fame in Covent Garden." Her list of publications was not extensive, containing, in fact, only two items: I. "The Busy-Body; or Successful Spy; being the entertaining History of Mons. Bigand ... The whole containing great Variety of Adventures, equally instructive and diverting," and II. "Anti-Pamela, or Feign'd Innocence detected, in a Series of Syrena's Adventures: A Narrative which has really its Foundation in Truth and Nature ... Publish'd as a necessary Caution to all young Gentlemen. The Second Edition."[30] Mrs. Haywood's venture as a publisher was transitory, for we hear no more of it. But taken together with a letter from her to Sir Hans Sloane,[31] recommending certain volumes of poems that no gentleman's library ought to be without, the bookselling enterprise shows that the novelist had more strings than one to her bow.

By one expedient or another Mrs. Haywood managed to exist fourteen years longer and during that time wrote the best remembered of her works. Copy from her pen supplied her publisher, Thomas Gardner, with a succession of novels modeled on the French fiction of Marivaux and De Mouhy, with periodical essays reminiscent of Addison, with moral letters, and with conduct books of a nondescript but popular sort. The hard-worked authoress even achieved a new reputation on the success of her "Fortunate Foundlings" (1744), "Female Spectator" (1744-6), and her most ambitious novel, "The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless" (1751). The productions known to be hers do not certainly represent the entire output of her industry during this period, for since "The Dunciad" her writing had been almost invariably anonymous. One or two equivocal bits of secret history and scandal-mongering may probably be attributed to her at the very time when in "Epistles for the Ladies" (1749-50) she was advocating sobriety, religion, and morality. These suspected lapses into her old habits should serve as seasoning to the statement of the "Biographia Dramatica" that Eliza Haywood was "in mature age, remarkable for the most rigid and scrupulous decorum, delicacy, and prudence, both with respect to her conduct and conversation." If she was not too old a dog to learn new tricks, she at least did not forget her old ones. Of her circumstances during her last years little can be discovered. "The Female Spectator," in emulation of its famous model, commences with a pen-portrait of the writer, which though not intended as an accurate picture, certainly contains no flattering lines. It shows the essayist both conscious of the faults of her youth and willing to make capital out of them.

"As a Proof of my Sincerity, I shall, in the first place, assure him [the reader], that for my own Part I never was a Beauty, and am now very far from being young; (a Confession he will find few of my Sex ready to make): I shall also acknowledge that I have run through as many Scenes of Vanity and Folly as the greatest Coquet of them all.— Dress, Equipage, and Flattery were the Idols of my Heart.—I should have thought that Day lost, which did not present me with some new Opportunity of shewing myself.—My Life, for some Years, was a continued Round of what I then called Pleasure, and my whole Time engross'd by a Hurry of promiscuous Diversions.—But whatever Inconveniences such a manner of Conduct has brought upon myself, I have this Consolation, to think that the Publick may reap some Benefit from it:—The Company I kept was not, indeed, always so well chosen as it ought to have been, for the sake of my own Interest or Reputation; but then it was general, and by Consequence furnished me, not only with the Knowledge of many Occurrences, which otherwise I had been ignorant of, but also enabled me ...to see into the most secret Springs which gave rise to the Actions I had either heard, or been Witness of—to judge of the various Passions of the Human Mind, and distinguish those imperceptible Degrees by which they become Masters of the Heart, and attain the Dominion over Reason....

"With this Experience, added to a Genius tolerably extensive, and an Education more liberal than is ordinarily allowed to Persons of my Sex, I flatter'd myself that it might be in my Power to be in some measure both useful and entertaining to the Publick."

A less favorable glimpse of the authoress and her activities is afforded by a notice of a questionable publication called "A Letter from H—- G—- g, Esq." (1750), and dealing with the movements of the Young Chevalier. It was promptly laid to her door by the "Monthly Review."[32]

"The noted Mrs. H—- d, author of four volumes of novels well known, and other romantic performances, is the reputed author of this pretended letter; which was privately conveyed to the shops, no publisher caring to appear in it: but the government, less scrupulous, took care to make the piece taken notice of, by arresting the female veteran we have named; who has been some weeks in custody of a messenger, who also took up several pamphlet-sellers, and about 800 copies of the book; which last will now probably be rescued from a fate they might otherwise have undergone, that of being turned into waste-paper, ... by the famous fiery nostrum formerly practised by the physicians of the soul in Smithfield, and elsewhere; and now as successfully used in treasonable, as then in heretical cases."

This unceremonious handling of the "female veteran," in marked contrast to the courteous, though not always favorable treatment of Mrs. Haywood's legitimate novels, suggests the possibility that even the reviewers were ignorant of the authorship of "The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy" (1753) and "The Invisible Spy" (1755). Twenty years later, in fact, a writer in the "Critical Review" used the masculine pronoun to refer to the author of "Betsy Thoughtless." It is quite certain that Mrs. Haywood spent the closing years of her life in great obscurity, for no notice of her death appeared in any one of the usual magazines. She continued to publish until the end, and with two novels ready for the press, died on 25 February, 1756.[33]

"In literature," writes M. Paul Morillot, "even if quality is wanting, quantity has some significance," and though we may share Scott's abhorrence for the whole "Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy tribe" of novels, we cannot deny the authoress the distinction accorded her by the "Biographia Dramatica" of being—for her time, at least—"the most voluminous female writer this kingdom ever produced." Moreover, it is not Richardson, the meticulous inventor of the epistolary novel, but the past-mistress of sensational romance who is credited with originating the English domestic novel. Compared with the delicate perceptions and gentle humor of Fanny Burney and Jane Austen, Mrs. Haywood's best volumes are doubtless dreary enough, but even if they only crudely foreshadow the work of incomparably greater genius, they represent an advance by no means slight. From "Love in Excess" to "Betsy Thoughtless" was a step far more difficult than from the latter novel to "Evelina." As pioneers, then, the author of "Betsy Thoughtless" and her obscurer contemporaries did much to prepare the way for the notable women novelists who succeeded them. No modern reader is likely to turn to the "Ouida" of a bygone day—as Mr. Gosse calls her—for amusement or for admonition, but the student of the period may find that Eliza Haywood's seventy or more books throw an interesting sidelight upon public taste and the state of prose fiction at a time when the half created novel was still "pawing to get free his hinder parts."

FOOTNOTES

[1] E. Bernbaum, Mrs. Behn's Biography a Fiction, PMLA, XXVIII, 432.

[2] David Erskine Baker, Companion to the Play House, 1764.

[3] The London Parish Registers contain no mention of an Eliza Fowler in 1693, but on 21 January, 1689, O.S., "Elizabeth dau. of Robert ffowler [Transcriber's note: sic] & Elizabeth his wife" was christened at St. Peter's, Cornhill. Later entries show that Robert was a hosier to his trade. Possibly in suppressing the other particulars of her life, Mrs. Haywood may have consigned to oblivion a year or two of her age, but in her numerous writings I have not found any allusion that could lead to her positive identification with the daughter of Robert Fowler.

[4] He was the author of An Examination of Dr. Clarke's Scripture-Doctrine of the Trinity, with a Confutation of it (1719). The work is a paragraph by paragraph refutation from the authority of scripture of the Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (1712) by the metaphysical Dr. Samuel Clarke, whose unorthodox views prevented Queen Caroline from making him Archbishop of Canterbury. The Reverend Mr. Haywood was upon safe ground in attacking a book already condemned in Convocation.

[5] "Whereas Elizabeth Haywood, Wife of the Reverend Mr. Valentine Haywood, eloped from him her Husband on Saturday the 26th of November last past, and went away without his Knowledge and Consent: This is to give Notice to all Persons in general, That if any one shall trust her either with Money or Goods, or if she shall contract Debts of any kind whatsoever, the said Mr. Haywood will not pay the same."

[6] Tatler, No. 6 and No. 40.

[7] W.R. Chetwood, A General History of the Stage, 56.

[8] Genest, III, 59.

[9] Genest, III, 73.

[10] John Rich opened the New Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields during December, 1714.

[11] Genest, III, 113.

[12] Genest, III, 241.

[13] Biographia Dramatica. The production is mentioned by Genest, III, 281.

[14] W.R. Chetwood, A General History of the Stage, 57.

[15] Genest, III, 408.

[16] In Kane O'Hara's later and more popular transformation of Tom Thumb into a light opera, the song put into the mouth of the dying Grizzle by the first adapters was retained with minor changes.

"My body's like a bankrupt's shop, My creditor is cruel death, Who puts to trade of life a stop, And will be paid with this last breath; Oh!"

Apparently O'Hara made no further use of his predecessors.

[17] S.P. Dom. George I, Bundle 22, No. 97.

[18] In spite of the fact that "Translated from the French" appeared on the title-page, Mrs. Haywood has hitherto been accredited with the full authorship of these letters. They were really a loose translation of Lettres Nouvelles.... Avec Treize Lettres Amoureuses d'une Dame a un Cavalier (Second Edition, Paris, 1699) by Edme Boursault, and were so advertised in the public prints.

[19] Probably a misprint. When the novels appeared, Idalia was the Unfortunate Mistress, Lasselia the Self-abandon'd. Perhaps because the work outgrew its original proportions, or because short novels found a readier sale, the five were never published under the inclusive cautionary caption.

[20] E. Gosse, Gossip in a Library, 161, "What Ann Lang Read." Only one of Mrs. Haywood's novels, The City Jilt, was ever issued in cheap form. T. Bailey, the printer, evidently combined his printing business with the selling of patent medicines.

[21] The latter may be read in Savage's Poems, Cooke's edition, II, 162. The complimentary verses first printed before the original issue.

[22] His poem To Mrs. Eliza Haywood on her Writings was hastily inserted in the fourth volume of Secret Histories, Novels, and Poems when that collection had reached its third edition (1732). In the fourth edition of ten years later it stands, with the verses already described, at the beginning of Volume I.

[23] In the Preface to Lasselia (1723), for instance, she feels obliged to defend herself from "that Aspersion which some of my own Sex have been unkind enough to throw upon me, that I seem to endeavour to divert more than to improve the Minds of my Readers. Now, as I take it, the Aim of every Person, who pretends to write (tho' in the most insignificant and ludicrous way) ought to tend at least to a good Moral Use; I shou'd be sorry to have my Intentions judg'd to be the very reverse of what they are in reality. How far I have been able to succeed in my Desires of infusing those Cautions, too necessary to a Number, I will not pretend to determine; but where I have had the Misfortune to fail, must impute it either to the Obstinacy of those I wou'd persuade, or to my own Deficiency in that very Thing which they are pleased to say I too much abound in—a true description of Nature."

[24] An eight page verse satire entitled The Female Dunces. Inscribed to Mr. Pope (1733) after criticizing the conduct of certain well known ladies, concludes with praise of a nymph who we may believe was intended to represent Eliza Haywood:

"Eliza good Examples shews in vain, Despis'd, and laugh'd at by the vicious Train; So bright she shines, she might adorn a Throne Not with a borrow'd Lustre, but her Own."

[25] A single exception was The Surprise (1724), dedicated to Steele in the following words: "The little History I presume to offer, being composed of Characters full of Honour and Generosity, I thought I had a fit Opportunity, by presenting it to one who has made it so much his Study to infuse those Principles, and whose every Action is a shining Example of them, to express my Zeal in declaring myself with all imaginable Regard," etc., etc.

[26] See the Dedication to The Fatal Secret (1724). "But as I am a Woman, and consequently depriv'd of those Advantages of Education which the other Sex enjoy, I cannot so far flatter my Desires, as to imagine it in my Power to soar to any Subject higher than that which Nature is not negligent to teach us. "Love is a Topick which I believe few are ignorant of; there requires no Aids of Learning, no general Conversation, no Application; a shady Grove and purling Stream are all Things that's necessary to give us an Idea of the tender Passion. This is a Theme, therefore, which, while I make choice to write of, frees me from the Imputation of vain or self-sufficient:—None can tax me with having too great an Opinion of my own Genius, when I aim at nothing but what the meanest may perform. "I have nothing to value myself on, but a tolerable Share of Discernment."

[27] See the Preface to The Injur'd Husband quoted in Chap. IV.

[28] Preface to The Memoirs of the Baron de Brosse (1725). A similar complaint had appeared in the Dedication of The Fair Captive (1721). "For my own part ... I suffer'd all that Apprehension could inflict, and found I wanted many more Arguments than the little Philosophy I am Mistress of could furnish me with, to enable me to stem that Tide of Raillery, which all of my Sex, unless they are very excellent indeed, must expect, when once they exchange the Needle for the Quill."

[29] See a poem by Aaron Hill, To Eliza upon her design'd Voyage into Spain (undated), Hill's Works, III, 363. Also The Husband, 59. "On a trip I was once taking to France, an accident happen'd to detain me for some days at Dover," etc. Mrs. Haywood's relations with Hill have been excellently discussed by Miss Dorothy Brewster, Aaron Hill (1913), 186.

[30] The first of these was a translation of the Chevalier de Mouhy's best known work, La Mouche, ou les Aventures et espiegleries facetieuses de Bigand, (1730), and may have been done by Mrs. Haywood herself. The second title certainly savors of a typical Haywoodian production, but I have been unable to find a copy of these alleged publications. Neither of them was originally published at the Sign of Fame, and they could hardly have been pirated, since Cogan, who issued the volume wherein the advertisement appeared, was also the original publisher of The Busy-Body. The Anti-Pamela had already been advertised for Huggonson in June, 1741, and had played a small part in the series of pamphlets, novels, plays, and poems excited by Richardson's fashionable history. If Mrs. Haywood wrote it, she was biting the hand that fed her, for The Virtuous Villager probably owed its second translation and what little sale it may have enjoyed to the similarity between the victorious virgin and the popular Pamela.

[31] B.M. (MSS. Sloane. 4059. ff. 144), undated.

[32] Monthly Review, II, 167, Jan. 1750.

[33] The Biographia Dramatica gives this date. Clara Reeve, Progress of Romance, I, 121, however, gives 1758, while Mrs. Griffith, Collection of Novels (1777), II, 159, prefers 1759. The two novels were Clementina (1768), a revision of The Agreeable Caledonian, and The History of Leonora Meadowson (1788).



CHAPTER II

SHORT ROMANCES OF PASSION

The little amatory tales which formed Mrs. Haywood's chief stock in trade when she first set up for a writer of fiction, inherited many of the characteristics of the long-winded French romances. Though some were told with as much directness as any of the intercalated narratives in "Clelie" or "Cleopatre," others permitted the inclusion of numerous "little histories" only loosely connected with the main plot. Letters burning with love or jealousy were inserted upon the slightest provocation, and indeed remained an important component of Eliza Haywood's writing, whether the ostensible form was romance, essay, or novel. Scraps of poetry, too, were sometimes used to ornament her earliest effusions, but the other miscellaneous features of the romances—lists of maxims, oratory, moral discourses, and conversations —were discarded from the first. The language of these short romances, while generally more easy and often more colloquial than the absurd extravagances of the translators of heroic romances and their imitators, still smacked too frequently of shady groves and purling streams to be natural. Many conventional themes of love or jealousy, together with such stock types as the amorous Oriental potentate, the lover disguised as a slave, the female page, the heroine of excessive delicacy, the languishing beauty, the ravishing sea-captain, and the convenient pirate persisted in the pages of Mrs. Barker, Mrs. Haywood, and Mrs. Aubin. As in the interminable tomes of Scudery, love and honor supplied the place of life and manners in the tales of her female successors, and though in some respects their stories were nearer the standard of real conduct, new novel on the whole was but old romance writ small.

In attempting to revitalize the materials and methods of the romances Mrs. Haywood was but following the lead of the French romancieres, who had successfully invaded the field of prose fiction when the passing of the precieuse fashion and Boileau's influential ridicule[1] had discredited the romance in the eyes of writers with classical predilections. Mme de La Fayette far outshines her rivals, but a host of obscure women, headed by Hortense Desjardins, better known as Mme de Villedieu, hastened to supply the popular demand for romantic stories. In drawing their subjects from the histories of more modern courts than those of Rome, Greece, or Egypt they endeavored to make their "historical" romances of passion more lifelike than the heroic romances, and while they avoided the extravagances, they also shunned the voluminousness of the romans a longue haleine. So the stories related in "La Belle Assemblee" by Mme de Gomez, translated by Mrs. Haywood in 1725 and often reprinted, are nearer the model of Boccaccio's novelle than of the Scudery romance, both in their directness and in being set in a framework, but the inclusion, in the framework, of long conversations on love, morals, politics, or wit, with copious examples from ancient and modern history, of elegant verses on despair and similar topics, and of such miscellaneous matter as the "General Instructions of a Mother to a Daughter for her Conduct in Life," showed that the influence of the salon was not yet exhausted. In the continuation called "L'Entretien des Beaux Esprits" (translated in 1734), however, the elaborate framework was so far reduced that fourteen short tales were crowded into two volumes as compared with eighteen in the four volumes of the previous work. Writers of fiction were evidently finding brief, unadorned narrative most acceptable to the popular taste.

That the "novels" inserted in these productions had not ceased to breathe the atmosphere of romance is sufficiently indicated by such titles as "Nature outdone by Love," "The Triumph of Virtue," "The Generous Corsair," "Love Victorious over Death," and "Heroick Love." French models of this kind supplied Mrs. Haywood with a mine of romantic plots and situations which she was not slow to utilize.[2] Furthermore, her natural interest in emotional fiction was quickened by these and other translations from the French. The "Letters from a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier" emphasized the teaching of the "Lettres Portugaises," while "The Lady's Philosopher's Stone; or, The Caprices of Love and Destiny" (1725),[3] although claiming to be an "historical novel" in virtue of being set "in the time, when Cromwell's Faction prevail'd in England," was almost entirely occupied with the matters indicated in the sub-title. And in "The Disguis'd Prince: or, the Beautiful Parisian" (1728) she translated the melting history of a prince who weds a merchant's daughter in spite of complicated difficulties.[4] Much reading in books of this sort filled Mrs. Haywood's mind with images of exalted virtue and tremendous vice, and like a Female Quixote, she saw and reported the life about her in terms borrowed from the romances. So, too, Mrs. Manley had written her autobiography in the character of Rivella.

This romantic turn of mind was not easily laid aside, but the women writers made some progress toward a more direct and natural representation of the passions. The advance was due partly, no doubt, to a perception of the heroic absurdities of French fiction, but also to the study of Italian novelle and the "Exemplary Novels" of Cervantes. But even when imitating the compression of these short tales Mrs. Haywood did not always succeed in freeing herself from the "amour trop delicat" of the romantic conventions. In two short "novels" appended to "Cleomelia: or, the Generous Mistress" (1727) the robust animalism of the Italian tales comes in sharp contrast with the delicatesse of the French tradition. "The Lucky Rape: or, Fate the best Disposer" illustrates the spirit of the novelle.

Emilia, rusticated to Andalusia to escape falling in love, gives her heart to Berinthus, whom she meets at a masquerade. On her way to a second entertainment to meet her lover, her terror of a drunken cavalier induces her to accept the protection of the amorous Alonzo and paves the way for her ruin. Berinthus turns out to be her brother Henriquez. Alonzo, his friend, marries the lady as soon as her identity is discovered, and all parties are perfectly content.

Though the scene of "The Capricious Lover: or, No Trifling with a Woman" is likewise laid in Spain, the atmosphere of the story is far different.

Montano, doubtful of Calista's affection for him, feigns to break with her, and she, though really loving him, returns an indifferent answer and marries Gaspero out of pique. The distracted lover thereupon falls upon his sword in the presence of the newly wedded couple, and the bride, touched by the spectacle of her lover's devotion, languishes and dies in a few months.

There is little naturalness in the extravagant passion of the second story, but until sensationalism cloyed the public palate, realism was an unnecessary labor. By placing the events in some romantic country like Spain, Portugal, Italy, or even France, any narrative of excessive love could be made to pass current. The Latin countries were vaguely imagined by romantic novelists as a sort of remote but actual pays du Tendre where the most extraordinary actions might occur if only "love, soft love" were the motivating force.

A collection of select novels called "Love in its Variety," advertised in 1727 as "Written in Spanish by Signior Michel Ban Dello; made English by Mrs. Eliza Haywood," was apparently a translation from the novelle of Matteo Bandello, probably from a French version.[5] The best examples of her brief, direct tales, however, are to be found in "The Fruitless Enquiry. Being a Collection of several Entertaining Histories and Occurrences, which Fell under the Observation of a Lady in her Search after Happiness" (1727). Although the scene is laid in Venice, the model of this framework story was probably not the "Decameron" but the Oriental tales, known in England through French translations and imitations of the "Arabian Nights." Intercalated stories were not uncommon in French romances, but they were almost invariably introduced as life histories of the various characters. A fantastic framework, with a hint of magic, fabricated expressly to give unity to a series of tales, half exemplary, half satirical, points directly to an ultimate connection with the narratives of Scheherezade and Sutlememe. No attempt to catch the spirit of the East is discernible, but the vogue of Oriental tales was evidently beginning to make an impression on French and English writers of fiction. Care for the moral welfare of her readers doubtless influenced Mrs. Haywood to assert in the dedication to Lady Elizabeth Germain that the following "Sheets ...contain the History of some real Facts," and that the author's chief design in publishing was to "persuade my Sex from seeking Happiness the wrong Way."

At any rate the moral of the stories suited the taste of the age.[6]

Miramillia, widow of a nobleman in Venice, loses her only son, and is informed by a soothsayer that she will hear nothing of him until she has a shirt made for him by a woman perfectly content. She, therefore, seeks among her acquaintance for the happy woman, but one after another reveals to her a secret disquiet.

Anziana, married against her will to the Count Caprera, encourages her former lover, Lorenzo, to continue his friendship for her. Her husband and father, believing that she is about to prove faithless to her marriage vows, secretly assassinate Lorenzo, and cause his skeleton to be set up in Anziana's closet for an object lesson. When she discovers it, she refuses to be reconciled to her husband, and vows to spend an hour a day weeping over Lorenzo's remains.

On the night of his marriage Montrano is torn from the arms of Iseria by his cruel uncle and shipped to Ceylon. Shipwrecked, he becomes the slave of a savage Incas, whose renegade Italian queen falls in love with him. But neither her blandishments nor the terrible effects of her displeasure can make him inconstant to Iseria. After suffering incredible hardships, he returns to see Iseria once more before entering a monastery, but she, loyal even to the semblance of the man, refuses to allow him to leave her.

Stenoclea's doting parents refuse to let her wed Armuthi, a gentleman beneath her in fortune, and he in hopes of removing the objection goes on his travels. Her parents die, her brother is assassinated on his way home to Venice, she becomes mistress of her fortune, and soon marries her lover. Completely happy, she begins to make a shirt for Miramillia's son, but before it is completed, a servant who had been wounded when her brother was killed, returns and identifies Armuthi as the slayer. Through Miramillia's influence the husband is pardoned, but Stenoclea retires to a convent.

An adventuress named Maria boasts to Miramillia that she has attained perfect felicity by entrapping the Marquis de Savilado into a marriage. She too undertakes the shirt, but in a few days Miramillia hears that the supposed Marquis has been exposed as an impostor and turned into the street with his wife.

Violathia endures for a long time the cruelties of her jealous husband, Count Berosi, but finally yields to the persistent kindness of her lover, Charmillo. Just as he has succeeded in alienating his wife's affections, Berosi experiences a change of heart. His conduct makes the divorce impossible, and she is forced to remain the wife of a man she loathes, and to dismiss Charmillo who has really gained her love.

Tellisinda, to avoid the reproach of barrenness, imposes an adopted boy on her husband, but shortly afterward gives birth to a child. She is forced to watch a spurious but amiable heir inherit the estate of her own ill-natured son. (Cf. footnote 2 at end of this chapter.)

Even unmarried ladies, Miramillia finds, are not without their discontents. Amalia is vexed over the failure of a ball gown. Clorilla is outranked by an acquaintance whose father has obtained preferment. Claribella pouts because a man has shot himself for love of her rival. Selinda mourns her lap-dog dead.

Just as Miramillia is ready to give over her search for a happy woman, Adario, her son, returns in company with a former lover of hers whose daughter he has saved from a villain at the expense of a wound from which he has but then recovered. Naturally the girl rewards him with her hand, and all ends well.[7]

Of the stories in this diversified collection that of Anziana approaches in kind, though not in degree, the tragic pathos of Isabella and the Pot of Basil ("Decameron," IV, 5). The second narrative has all the glamor of adventure in the barbaric East, and the romantic interest that attaches to lovers separated but eternally constant. The histories of Stenoclea and of Tellisinda contain situations of dramatic intensity. But perhaps the story of Violathia is the most worthy of attention on account both of its defects and of its merits. The weakest part of the plot is the husband, who is jealous without cause, and equally without reason suddenly reforms. But the character of Violathia is admirably drawn. Unlike the usual heroine of Haywoodian fiction she is superior to circumstance and does not yield her love to the most complacent adjacent male. As a dutiful wife she resists for a long time the insinuations of Charmillo, but when she decides to fly to her lover, her husband's tardy change of heart cannot alter her feelings. Her character is individual, firm, and palpable. If the story was original with Mrs. Haywood, it shows that her powers of characterization were not slight when she wished to exert them. The influence of the novella and of the Oriental tale produced nothing better.

From other literary forms the makers of fiction freely derived sensational materials and technical hints. Without insisting too closely upon the connection between novel and play, we may well remember that nearly all the early novelists, Defoe excepted, were intimately associated with the theatre. Mrs. Behn, Mrs. Manley, Mrs. Haywood, and later Fielding and Mrs. Lennox were successful in both fields. The women writers especially were familiar with dramatic technique both as actors and playwrights, and turned their stage training to account when they wrote prose fiction. Mrs. Haywood's first novel, "Love in Excess" (1720), showed evidences of her apprenticeship to the theatre. Its three parts may be compared to the three acts of a play; the principal climax falls properly at the end of the second part, and the whole ends in stereotyped theatrical fashion with the marriage of all the surviving couples. The handling of incident, too, is in the fashion of the stage. Mrs. Haywood had sufficient skill to build up a dramatic situation, but she invariably solves it, or rather fails to solve it, by an interruption at the critical moment, so that the reader's interest is continually titillated. Of a situation having in itself the germs of a solution, she apparently had not the remotest conception. When a love scene has been carried far enough, the coming of a servant, the sound of a duel near by, or a seasonable outbreak of fire interrupts it. Such devices were the common stock in trade of minor writers for the theatre. Dramatic hacks who turned to prose fiction found it only a more commodious vehicle for incidents and scenes already familiar to them on the stage. In their hands the novel became simply a looser and more extended series of sensational adventures. Accident, though tempered in various degrees by jealousy, hatred, envy, or love, was the supreme motivating force.

The characters of Mrs. Haywood's "Love in Excess" also inherited many traits from the debased but glittering Sir Fopling Flutters, Mirabells, Millamants, and Lady Wishforts of the Restoration stage. Of character drawing, indeed, there is practically none in the entire piece; the personages are distinguished only by the degree of their willingness to yield to the tender passion. The story in all its intricacies may best be described as the vie amoureuse of Count D'Elmont, a hero with none of the wit, but with all the gallantry of the rakes of late Restoration comedy. Two parts of the novel relate the aristocratic intrigues of D'Elmont and his friends; the third shows him, like Mrs. Centlivre's gallants in the fifth act, reformed and a model of constancy. It would be useless to detail the sensational extravagances of the plot in all its ramifications, but the hero's adventures before and after marriage may serve as a fair sample of the whole.

D'Elmont, returning to Paris from the French wars, becomes the admiration of both sexes, but especially in the eyes of the rich and noble Alovisa appears a conquest worthy of her powers. To an incoherent expression of her passion sent to him in an anonymous letter he pays no attention, having for diversion commenced an intrigue with the lovely Amena. Though Alovisa in a second billet bids him aim at a higher mark, "he had said too many fine things to be lost," and continues his pursuit until Amena's father takes alarm and locks her up. Through her maid she arranges for a secret meeting, and though touched by her father's reproofs, she is unable to withstand the pleas of the captivating count. Their tete-a-tete in the Tuilleries, however, is interrupted by Alovisa's spies, who alarm the house with cries of fire, so that the lovers find themselves locked out. Half senseless with dismay, Amena finds shelter in the house of Alovisa, who, though inwardly triumphant, receives her rival civilly and promises to reconcile her to her father. D'Elmont is so patently glad to be relieved of his fair charge that she demands back her letter, but he by mistake gives her one of Alovisa's, whose handwriting she immediately recognizes. When the polite Count returns to enquire after her health, she accuses her lover and friend of duplicity, faints, and letting fall Alovisa's letter from her bosom, brings about an eclaircissement between D'Elmont and that lady. Before Amena's recovery the Count hastens away to welcome his brother, and when the imprudent girl has been safely lodged in a convent, D'Elmont, moved more by ambition than by love, weds the languishing Alovisa.

After his marriage the Count soon quarrels with his wife and consoles himself by falling in love with his ward, the matchless Melliora, but the progress of his amour is interrupted by numerous unforeseen accidents. The mere suspicion of his inconstancy raises his wife's jealousy to a fever heat. To expose her rival she pretends to yield to the persuasions of her wooer, the Baron D'Espernay, but as a result of a very intricate intrigue both Alovisa and the Baron perish accidentally on the swords of D'Elmont and his brother.

Melliora retires to a convent, and her lover goes to travel in Italy, where his charms cause one lady to take poison for love of him, and another to follow him disguised as the little foot-page Fidelio. In helping Melliora's brother to elope with a beautiful Italian girl, the Count again encounters his beloved Melliora, now pursued by the Marquis de Sanguillier. In a dramatic denouement she deserts the Marquis at the altar and throws herself upon the protection of her guardian. The disappointed bridegroom is consoled by the discovery of an old flame who has long been serving him secretly in the capacity of chambermaid. Fidelio reveals her identity and dies of hopeless love, pitied by all. The three surviving couples marry at once, and this time the husbands "continue, with their fair Wives, great and lovely Examples of conjugal Affection."

Such, with the omission of all secondary narratives, is the main plot of Eliza Haywood's first novel.

"Love in Excess" best illustrates the similarity of sensational fiction to clap-trap drama, but others of her early works bear traces of the author's familiarity with the theatre. The escape of the pair of lovers from an Oriental court, already the theme of countless plays including Mrs. Haywood 's own "Pair Captive," was re-vamped to supply an episode in "Idalia" (1723), and parts of the same novel are written in concealed blank verse that echoes the heroic Orientalism of some of Dryden's tragedies. In the character of Grubguard, the amorous alderman of "The City Jilt" (1726), Mrs. Haywood apparently had in mind not Alderman Barber, whom the character little resembles, but rather Antonio in Otway's "Venice Preserved." And the plot of "The Distressed Orphan, or Love in a Mad-House" (c. 1726), where young Colonel Marathon feigns himself mad in order to get access to his beloved Annilia, may perhaps owe its inspiration to the coarser mad-house scenes of Middleton's "Changeling."[8] On the whole, however, the drama but poorly repaid its debt to prose fiction.

An indication of the multifarious origins of the short tales of love is to be found in the nominal diversity of the setting. The scene, though often laid in some such passion-ridden land as Spain or Italy, rarely affects the nature of the story. But as in such novels as "Philidore and Placentia" and "The Agreeable Caledonian" the characters wander widely over the face of Europe and even come in contact with strange Eastern climes, so the writers of romantic tales ransacked the remotest corners of literature and history for sensational matter. The much elaborated chronicle of the Moors was made to eke out substance for "The Arragonian Queen" (1724), a story of "Europe in the Eighth Century," while "Cleomelia: or, the Generous Mistress" was advertised as the "Secret History of a Lady Lately Arriv'd from Bengall." The tendency to exploit the romantic features of outlandish localities was carried to the ultimate degree by Mrs. Penelope Aubin, whose characters range over Africa, Turkey, Persia, the East and West Indies, and the North American continent, often with peculiar geographical results. But neither Mrs. Aubin nor Mrs. Haywood was able to use the gorgeous local color that distinguished Mrs. Behn's "Oroonoko," and still less did they command the realistic imagination that could make the travels of a Captain Singleton lifelike.

Even when, as in "The Mercenary Lover," the setting is transferred to "the Metropolis of one of the finest Islands in the World," and the action takes place "in the neighborhood of a celebrated Church, in the Sound of whose Bells the Inhabitants of that populous City think it an Honour to be born,"[9] the change is unaccompanied by any attempt at circumstantial realism. We are told that Belinda of "The British Recluse" is a young lady of Warwickshire, that Fantomina follows her lover to Bath in the guise of a chambermaid, or that "The Fair Hebrew" relates the "true, but secret history of two Jewish ladies who lately resided in London," but without the labels the settings could not be distinguished from the vague and unidentified mise en scene of such a romance as "The Unequal Conflict." Placentia in England raves of her passion for Philidore exactly as Alovisa in Paris, Emanuella in Madrid,[10] or Cleomelia in Bengal expose the raptures and agonies of their passions. The hero of "The Double Marriage" (1726) rescues a distressed damsel in the woods outside of Plymouth exactly as one of Ariosto's or Spenser's knights-errant might have done in the fairy country of old romance. In the sordid tale of "Irish Artifice," printed in Curll's "Female Dunciad" (1728), no reader could distinguish in the romantic names Aglaura and Merovius the nationality or the meanness of a villainous Irish housekeeper and her son. And though the tale is the very reverse of romantic, it contains no hint of actual circumstance. The characters in Mrs. Haywood's early fiction move in an imaginary world, sometimes, it is true, marked with the names of real places, but no more truly realistic than the setting of "Arcadia" or "Parthenissa."

Nor are the figures that people the eighteenth century paradise of romance more definitely pictured than the landscape. They are generally unindividualized, lay figures swayed by the passions of the moment, or at best mere "humour" characters representing love's epitome, extravagant jealousy, or eternal constancy. Pope could make a portrait specific by the vigorous use of epigrams, but Mrs. Haywood's comments on her heroes and heroines are but feeble. The description of Lasselia, for instance, contains no trait that is particular, no characteristic definitely individual. The girl is simply the type of all that is conventionally charming in her sex, "splendidly null, dead perfection."

"But if the grave Part of the World were charm'd with her Wit and Discretion, the Young and Gay were infinitely more so with her Beauty; which tho' it was not of that dazzling kind which strikes the Eye at first looking on it with Desire and Wonder, yet it was such as seldom fail'd of captivating Hearts most averse to Love. Her features were perfectly regular, her Eyes had an uncommon Vivacity in them, mix'd with a Sweetness, which spoke the Temper of her Soul; her Mien was gracefully easy, and her Shape the most exquisite that could be; in fine, her Charms encreas'd by being often seen, every View discover'd something new to be admir'd; and tho' they were of that sort which more properly may be said to persuade than to command Adoration, yet they persuaded it in such a manner, that no Mortal was able to resist their Force." (p. 2.)

Mrs. Haywood's heroes are merely the masculine counterparts of her women. Bellcour, the type of many more, "had as much Learning as was necessary to a Gentleman who depended not on that alone to raise his Fortune: He had also admirable Skill in Fencing, and became a Horse as well as any Man in the World."[11] Victor over a thousand hearts, the Haywoodian male ranges through his glittering sphere, ever ready to fall in or out of love as the occasion demands. D'Elmont of "Love in Excess" possesses a soul large enough to contain both love and fury at almost the same moment. A "brulee" with his spouse merely increases his tenderness for his ward.

"You have done well, Madam, (said D'Elmont, looking on her with Eyes sparkling with Indignation) you have done well, by your impertinent Curiosity and Imprudence, to rouze me from my Dream of Happiness, and remind me that I am that wretched thing a Husband! 'Tis well indeed, answer'd Alovisa, (who saw now that there was no need of farther Dissimulation) that any thing can make you remember, both what you are, and what I am. You, resum'd he, hastily interrupting her, have taken an effectual Method to prove your self a Wife!—a very Wife!— Insolent—Jealous—and Censorious!—But Madam, continued he frowning, since you are pleased to assert your Privilege, be assur'd, I too shall take my turn, and will exert the—Husband! In saying this, he flung out of the Room in spite of her Endeavours to hinder him, and going hastily through a Gallery which had a large Window that look'd into the Garden, he perceiv'd Melliora lying on a green Bank, in a melancholy but a charming Posture, directly opposite to the place where he was; her Beauties appear'd, if possible more to advantage than ever he had seen them, or at least he had more opportunity thus unseen by her, to gaze upon them: he in a moment lost all the Rage of Temper he had been in, and his whole Soul was taken up with Softness.... Ambition, Envy, Hate, Fear, or Anger, every other Passion that finds entrance in the Soul, Art and Discretion may disguise; but Love, tho' it may be feign'd, can never be conceal'd, not only the Eyes (those true and most perfect Intelligencers of the Heart) but every Feature, every Faculty betrays it! It fills the whole Air of the Person possess'd of it; it wanders round the Mouth! plays in the Voice! trembles in the Accent! and shows itself a thousand different ways! even Melliora's care to hide it, made it more apparent; and the transported D'Elmont, not considering where he was, or who might be a witness of his Rapture, could not forbear catching her in his Arms, and grasping her with an extasy, which plainly told her what his thoughts were, tho' at that time he had not power to put 'em into words; and indeed there is no greater Proof of a vast and elegant Passion, than the being uncapable of expressing it." (p. 79.)

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse