1778 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Seward

Frances Burney, 1778; Diary and Letters of the Author of Madam D'Arblay, ed. Austin Dobson (1904-05) 1:139-40.



While Mrs. Thrale and I were dressing, and, as usual, confabbing, a chaise drove into the park, and word was brought that Mr. Seward was arrived.

"You don't know much of Mr. Seward, Miss Burney?" said Mrs. Thrale.

I could have told her I wished he had not known much of me; but her maid was in my way, and I only said, "No."

"But I hope you will know more of him," said she, "for I want you to take to him. He is a charming young man, though not without oddities. Few people do him justice, because, as Dr. Johnson calls him, he is an abrupt young man; but he has excellent qualities, and an excellent understanding. He has the misfortune to be an hypochondriac, so he runs about the world to borrow spirits, and to forget himself. But after all, if his disorders are merely imaginary, the imagination is disorder sufficient, and therefore I am sorry for him."

The day passed very agreeably, but I have no time for particulars. I fight very shy with Mr. Seward, and as he has a great share of sense and penetration, and not a little one of pride and reserve, he takes the hint; and I believe he would as soon bite off his own nose as mention Evelina again. And, indeed, now that the propriety of his after-conduct has softened me in his favour, I begin to think of him much in the same way Mrs. Thrale does, for he is very sensible, very intelligent, and very well bred.