Fanny Burney, Evelina

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Original Inscription: To Dr. Burneyh

Oh, Author of my being!-far more dear
  To me than light, than nourishment, or rest,
Hygeiaw's blessings, Rapture's burning tear,
  Or the life-blood that mantlesw in my breast!

If in my heart the love of Virtue glows,
  'T was planted there by an unerring rule;
From thy example the pure flame arose,
  Thy life, my precept,-thy good works, my school.

Could my weak pow'rs thy num'rous virtues trace,
  By filial love each fear should be repress'd,
The blush of Incapacity I'd chace,
  And stand, Recorder of thy worth, confess'd:

But since my niggard stars that gift refuse,
  Concealmentw is the only boon I claim;
Obscure be still the unsuccessful Muse,
  Who cannot raise, but would not sinkw, thy fame.

Oh! of my life at once the source and joy!
  If e'er thy eyes these feeble lines survey,
Let not their folly their intent destroy;
  Accept the tribute-but forget the layw.

X [d] Evelina

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X [h] To Dr. Burney

Writing & Reading

The first edition published anonymously and inscribed "To______  ______," concealed Burney's authorship both from her father and readers who might have identified her through her distinguished parent.  Dr. Burney did not become aware that Fanny had written …

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X [w] Hygeia


Greek goddess of health, appropriated by the Romans, and source of "hygiene".

X [w] mantles

To well up or suffuse.

X [w] Concealment

Writing & Reading

Burney went to considerable lengths to conceal her authorship and any association of her manuscript with the Burney family, for instance altering her handwriting in the manuscript lest she be recognized from her work as her father's amanuensis. The manuscript volumes I and II were shown to publishers, the first of whom turned it down, by her brother Charles disguised enough to obscure his own identity. 


X [w] sink

One motive for concealment was likely Burney's anxiety that Evelina, especially if not well-received, could be viewed by her father as a blight on his own distinction. 


X [w] lay


A song or musical setting for a verse; it could be disregarded while retaining the literal meaning of the verse.