The quote above by Maria Edgeworth sets the tone for the plot of her novel, Belinda, and along with several others of Edgeworth’s personal. BELINDA. BY MARIA EDGEWORTH. LONDON: J. JOHNSON, Mrs Stanhope did not find Belinda such a docile pupil as her other nieces, for she had . Belinda is an English Society Novel written by Maria Edgeworth at the turn of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, published in It tells the story of.

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MRS STANHOPE, a well-bred woman, accomplished in that branch of knowledge which is called the art of rising in the world, had, with but a small fortune, contrived to amria in the highest company. She prided herself upon having established half a dozen nieces most happily, that is to say, upon having married them to men of fortunes far superior to their own.

One niece still remained unmarried — Belinda Portman, of whom she was determined to get rid with all convenient expedition. Belinda mara handsome, graceful, sprightly, and highly accomplished; her aunt had endeavoured to teach her that a young lady’s chief business is to please in society, that all her charms and accomplishments should be invariably subservient to one grand object — the establishing herself in the world: Her character, however, was yet to be developed by circumstances.

Mrs Stanhope lived at Bath, where she had opportunities of showing her niece off, as she thought, to advantage; but as her health began to decline, she could not go out with her as much as she wished.

Belinda Summary & Study Guide

After manoeuvring with more than her usual art, she succeeded in fastening Belinda upon the fashionable Lady Delacour for the season. Her ladyship was so much pleased by Miss Portman’s accomplishments and vivacity, as to invite her to spend the winter with karia in London. Soon after her arrival in town, Belinda received the following letter from her aunt Stanhope. Edgeorth have sent it to you by a young gentleman, who came to Bath unluckily the edgsworth day you left me — Mr.

Clarence Hervey — an acquaintance, and great admirer of my Lady Delacour. He is really an uncommonly pleasant young man, is highly connected, and has a fine independent fortune. Besides, he is a man of wit and gallantry, quite a connoisseur in female grace and beauty — just the man to bring a new face into fashion: How I have pitied and despised the giddy creatures, whilst I have observed them playing off their unmeaning airs, vying with one another in the most obviousand consequently the most ridiculous manner, so as to expose themselves before the very men they would maia I have often asked myself, what is to become of such girls when they grow old or ugly, or when the public eye grows tired of them?

If they have large fortunes, it is all very well; they can afford to divert themselves for a season or two, without doubt; they are sure to be sought after and followed, not by mere danglers, but by men of suitable views and pretensions: You will also have the name of being very fashionable, if you go much into public, as doubtless you will with Lady Delacour.

I need say no more mariw you upon this subject, my dear. Even with your limited experience, you must nelinda observed how foolish young people offend those who are the most necessary to their interests, by an imprudent indulgence of their vanity.

You will, of course, have credit with all her ladyship’s tradespeople, if you manage properly. To know how and when to lay out money is highly commendable, for in some situations, people judge of what one can afford by what one actually spends.

You have no occasion for caution yet on one of these points. Say every thing that is proper, in your best manner, for me to Lady Delacour. It is sometimes fortunate, that the means which are taken to produce certain effects upon the mind have a tendency directly opposite to what is expected. Mrs Stanhope’s perpetual anxiety about her niece’s appearance, manners, and establishment, had completely egeworth out Belinda’s patience; she had become more insensible to the praises of her personal charms and accomplishments than young women of her age usually are, because she had been so much flattered and shown off as it is called, by her match-making aunt.

Her taste for literature declined in proportion to marix intercourse with the fashionable world, as she did not in this society perceive the least use in the knowledge that she had acquired. Her mind had never been roused to much reflection; she had in general acted but as a puppet in the hands of others.

To her aunt Stanhope she had hitherto paid unlimited, habitual, blind obedience; but belinxa was more undesigning, and more free from affectation belknda coquetry, than could have been expected, after the course of documenting which she had gone through.

She was charmed with the idea mzria a visit to Lady Delacour, whom she thought the most agreeable — no, that is too feeble an expression — the most fascinating person she had ever beheld. Such was the light in which her ladyship appeared, not edgewortu to Belinda, but to all the world — that is to say, all the world of fashion, and she knew of mraia other.

Female wit sometimes depends on the beauty of its possessor for its reputation; and the reign of beauty is proverbially short, and fashion often capriciously deserts her favourites, even before nature withers their charms.


Lady Delacour seemed to be a fortunate exception to these general rules: To be seen in public with Lady Delacour, to be a visitor at her house, were privileges of which numbers were vehemently ambitious; and Belinda Portman was congratulated and envied by all her acquaintance, for being admitted as an inmate.

How could she avoid thinking herself singularly fortunate? A short time after her arrival at Lady Delacour’s, Belinda began to see through the thin veil with which politeness covers domestic misery.

Abroad she appeared all life, spirit, and good humour — at home, listless, fretful, and melancholy; she seemed like a spoiled actress off the stage, over-stimulated by applause, and exhausted by the exertions of supporting a fictitious character. She would sometimes walk up and down the empty magnificent saloon, absorbed in thoughts seemingly of the most painful nature.

For some days after Belinda’s arrival in town she heard nothing of Lord Delacour; his lady never mentioned his name, except once accidentally, as she was showing Miss Portman the house, she said, ‘Don’t open that door — those are only Lord Delacour’s apartments.

Take it down again, my good friends: Don’t look so shocked and amazed, Belinda — don’t look so newchild: Prejudiced by her ladyship, Belinda was inclined to think that Lord Delacour sober would not be more agreeable or more rational than Lord Delacour drunk.

Apropos, Belinda, did not you tell me Clarence Hervey is coming to town? He is not a man who ever says any thing flat — he is not a man who must be wound up with half a dozen bottles of champaign before he can go — he is not a man who, when he does go, goes wrong, and won’t be set right — he is not a man, whose whole consequence, if he were married, would depend on his wife — he is not a man, who, if he were married, would be so desperately afraid of being governed by his wife, that he would turn gambler, jockey, or sot, merely to show that he could govern himself.

Go on, my Lady Delacour — go on, and you’ll oblige me. His lordship whistled, rang for his horses, and looked at his nails with a smile. Belinda, shocked and in a great confusion, rose to leave the room, dreading the gross continuance of this matrimonial dialogue.

Why looks your grace so heavily to-day? I have passed a miserable night,’ replied Clarence, throwing himself into an actor’s attitude, and speaking in a fine tone of stage declamation.

I pray you, tell me,’ said her ladyship in a similar tone. What dreadful noise of fiddles in my ears! What sights of ugly belles within my eyes! On all these topics Mr Hervey displayed much wit, gallantry, and satire, with so happy an effect, that Belinda, when he took leave, was precisely of her aunt’s opinion, that he was a most uncommonly pleasant young man. Clarence Hervey might have been more than a pleasant young man, if he had not been smitten with the desire of being thought superior in every thing, and of being the most admired edgewoth in all companies.

Belinda (Edgeworth novel) – Wikipedia

He had been early flattered with the idea that he was a man edgewotrh genius; and he imagined that, as such, he was entitled to be imprudent, wild, and eccentric. Mraia affected singularity, in order to establish his claims to genius. He had considerable literary talents, by which he was distinguished at Oxford; but he was so dreadfully afraid of passing for a pedant, that when he came into the company of the idle and the ignorant, he pretended to disdain every species of knowledge.

His chameleon character seemed to vary in different lights, and according to the different situations in which he happened to be placed. He could be all things to all men — and to all women. He was supposed to be a favourite with the fair sex; and of all his various excellencies and defects, there was none on which he valued himself so much as on his gallantry. He was not profligate; he had a strong sense of humour, and quick feelings of humanity; but he was so easily led, or rather so easily excited by his companions, and his companions were now of such a sort, that it was probable he would soon become vicious.

As to his connexion with Lady Delacour, he would have started with horror at the idea of disturbing the peace of a family; but in her family, he said, there was no peace to disturb; he was vain of having it seen by the world that he was distinguished by a lady of her wit and fashion, and he did not think it incumbent on him to be more scrupulous or more attentive to appearances than her ladyship.

By Lord Delacour’s jealousy he was sometimes provoked, sometimes amused, and sometimes flattered.

He was constantly of all her ladyship’s parties in public and private; consequently he saw Belinda almost every day, and every day he saw her with increasing admiration of her beauty, and with increasing dread of being taken in to marry a niece of ‘the catch-match-maker ,’ the beoinda by which Mrs Stanhope was known amongst the men of his acquaintance.

Young ladies who have the misfortune to be conducted by these artful dames, are always supposed to be partners in all the speculations, though their names may not appear in the firm.

If he had not been prejudiced by the character of her aunt, Mr Hervey would have thought Belinda an undesigning, unaffected girl; but now he suspected her of artifice in every word, look, and motion; and even when he felt himself most charmed by her powers of pleasing, he was most inclined to despise her, for what he thought such premature proficiency in scientific coquetry.


He had not sufficient resolution to keep beyond the sphere of her attraction; but ergeworth, when he found himself within it, he cursed his folly, and drew back with sudden terror.

His manner towards her was so variable and inconsistent, that she knew not how to interpret its language. Sometimes she fancied, that with all the eloquence of eyes he said, ‘ I adore youBelinda;’ at other times she imagined that his guarded silence meant to warn her that he was so entangled by Lady Delacour, that belnda could not extricate himself from her snares. Whenever this last idea struck her, it excited, in the most edifying manner, her indignation against coquetry in general, and against her ladyship’s in particular: Belinda’s newly acquired moral sense was so much shocked, that she actually wrote a full statement of her observations and her scruples to her aunt Stanhope; concluding by a request, that she might not remain under the protection of a lady, of whose character she could not approve, and whose intimacy might perhaps be injurious to her reputation, if not to her principles.

Marka idea that whilst she appeared as Lady Delacour’s friend she ought not to propagate any stories to her disadvantage, edgewworth powerfully upon Belinda’s mind, and she reproached herself for having told even her aunt what she had seen in private. She thought that she had been guilty of treachery, and she wrote again immediately to Mrs Stanhope, to conjure her to burn her last letter; to forget, if possible, its contents; and to believe that not a syllable of a similar nature should ever more be heard from her: The masquerade dresses are come.

But, you novice of novices, how awkwardly shuffled! I beg, I entreat, I conjure you! Belinda was in too much confusion either to speak or think. All I can do now is not to read the rest.

When Lady Delacour had read it, her countenance suddenly changed — ‘Worth a hundred of your aunt’s, I declare,’ said she, patting Belinda’s cheek.

But whilst we are making speeches to one another, edgewofth Marriott is standing in distress, like Garrick, between tragedy and comedy. Marriott, who was a personage of prodigious consequence, and the judge in the last resort at her mistress’s toilette, looked extremely out of humour at having been kept waiting so long; and yet more so at the idea that her appellant jurisdiction could be disputed.

Belinda Summary & Study Guide

Tragedy, they say, is always tall; and, no offence, your ladyship’s taller than Miss Portman by half a head. Have patience with us, and you shall be satisfied. Belinxa many occasions Miss Portman had observed, that Marriott exercised despotic authority over her mistress; and she had seen, with surprise, that a lady, who would not yield an iota of power to her husband, submitted herself to every caprice of the most insolent of waiting-women. For some time, Belinda imagined that this submission was merely an air, as she had seen some other fine ladies proud of appearing to be governed by a favourite maid; but she was soon convinced that Marriott was no favourite with Lady Delacour; that her ladyship’s was not proud humilitybut fear.

It seemed certain that a woman, extravagantly fond of her own willwould never have given it up without some very substantial reason. It seemed as if Marriott was in possession of some secret, which should for ever remain unknown. This idea had occurred to Miss Portman more than once, but never so forcibly as upon the present occasion.

There had always been some mystery about her ladyship’s mria Miss Portman at first imagined that Lady Delacour dreaded edgeworrth discovery of her cosmetic secrets, but her ladyship’s rouge was so glaring, and her pearl powder was so obvious, that Belinda was convinced there must be some other cause for this toilette secrecy. There was a little cabinet beyond her bedchamber, which Lady Delacour called her boudoir, to which there was an entrance by a back staircase; but no one ever entered there but Marriott.

One night, Lady Delacour, after dancing with great spirit at a edgewkrth, at her own house, fainted suddenly: Miss Portman attended her to her bedchamber, but Marriott begged that her lady might be left alone with herand she would by no means suffer Belinda to follow her into the boudoir. All these things Belinda recollected, in the space of a few seconds, as she stood contemplating Marriott and the dresses. The hurry of getting ready for the masquerade, however, dispelled these thoughts, and by the time she was dressed, the edfeworth of what Clarence Hervey would think of her appearance was uppermost in her mind.

She was anxious to know whether he would discover her in the character of the comic muse. Lady Delacour was discontented with her tragic attire, and she grew still more out of humour with herself; when she saw Belinda.

Seriously, you know, we are to call at my friend Lady Singleton’s — she sees masks to-night: I’m quite intimate there; I’ll make her let me step up to her own room, where no soul can interrupt us, and there we can change our dresses, and Marriott will know nothing of the matter.

Marriott’s a faithful creature, and very fond of me; fond of power too — but who is not?