Pulling a name out of nowhere, or pulling anything out of nowhere, is contrary to the spirit of Radcliffe, a writer who surrounds the emotions in Romance of the Forest with calm explanations and can describe the movement of any character's mind from one state or feeling to another -- the plot twitches with shock sometimes, when banditti appear, or ghosts, but the prose itself is indomitable -- the plot tries to smack it in the head and it never raises an eyebrow, it cruises on serenely like the swan of folklore, a spectacle I have seen myself, in Australia, where the black swans heaved around on the salt waves like carved stoics, brave as a doll nailed to a rocking horse -- for example --
Adeline, mean while, in the solitude of her prison, gave way to the despair which her condition inspired. She tried to arrange her thoughts, and to argue her herself into some degree of resignation; but reflection, by representing the past, and reason, by anticipating the future, brought before her mind the full picture of her misfortunes, and she sunk in despondency.
There is no despondency in the voice though, this murmur that asserts itself. No decision in her book comes from nowhere, and no behaviour is spontaneous. Her prose doesn't imitate the speed of the events but always moves at its own pace. Her commas soothe thought by dividing it into portions. Each sentence proceeds like a menu. One item then another. Characters are startled, the writer is never startled. "Adeline was surprized and shocked," she observes, "at this careless confidence, which, however, by awakening her pride, communicated to her an air of dignity that abashed him," moving on serenely from surprize and shock to the product of surprize and shock and then to the result, the abashment of a villain, one thing connected so logically to another that the abashment in retrospect was always his imperative destiny, laid down by a creature that is like the idea of God in Boethius, a being that can see past, present, and future as though they were all happening at the same time; it's only mortals who have to move through time to catch up with events.
Jane Austen read Radcliffe, and the reasonable tone surfaced again in her like a dolphin (and not only her, though English society at that point had loved Reason so much that it was also abandoning it and loving Romance, the long century of Enlightenment becoming Counter-Enlightement as they wrote), yet Radcliffe never made a Mr Collins, and Austen did not write an Adeline; and there is no sign that Radcliffe ever joked as Austen joked in a letter to her sister: "Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted." (Sent from Cork Street, Mayfair, London in 1796.)* I haven't seen the biographical Austen movie Becoming Jane but I know that it represents the meeting between them by using actors, which sounds like a sane way for a film to engineer an encounter, even if one of the actors was really playing a book, Austen in reality speaking to the book and listening to the book, and not the real woman, who was reclusive in her husband's house.
Two users on imdb.com have submitted this dialogue:
Mrs Radcliffe: Of what do you wish to write?
Jane Austen: Of the heart.
Mrs Radcliffe: Do you know it?
Jane Austen: Not all of it.
Mrs Radcliffe: In time, you will. But even if that fails, that's what the imagination is for.
The Romance of the Forest has an implicit message that goes like this: I, Ann Radcliffe, I believe that "all of it" could be known and explicated if you took the time to think your behaviour through one step at a time. Nothing but the constraints of space and literary convention prevent me following every one of my characters' emotions to its ultimate progenitor, whatever that is.
A woman who can go a little way so clearly could go the whole way if she had enough time. She would follow the stages of each feeling until the start was revealed. The moment beating in her hand.
* I wouldn't have thought of the letters if Whispering Gums hadn't written a post about them yesterday.