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Title: Fanny Burney and her Friends - Select passages from her Diary and other Writings
Author: Burney, Fanny
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Footnotes have been moved to follow the paragraphs in which they are

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
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  _E. Burney._        _A Dawson Ph.fc._        _C. Turner_
  _Frances Burney._

                              FANNY BURNEY
                            AND HER FRIENDS

                            OTHER WRITINGS_

                               EDITED BY

                           L. B. SEELEY, M.A.

            _Sometime Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge_

                               AUTHOR OF
                     “HORACE WALPOLE AND HIS WORLD”

                             _NEW EDITION_


                         SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED

                          ESSEX STREET, STRAND



                               CHAPTER I.


 Birth—Parentage—The Macburneys—Early Life of Dr. Burney—Fulk       1-31
   Greville—Esther Sleepe—Lynn—Poland Street—Frances Burney’s
   Brothers and Sisters—Her Backwardness in Childhood—Her
   Mother’s Death—David Garrick—The Old Lady—The Wig-maker—
   Neglect of Fanny’s Education—Her Taste for Scribbling—
   Samuel Crisp—His Early Life—His Tragedy—Its Failure—His
   Chagrin—His Life at Hampton—His Retirement from the World—
   Crisp renews his Acquaintance with Burney—Becomes the
   Adviser of the Family—Burney’s Amiable Temper—Chesington
   Hall—Its Quaint Interior—Contrast between Fanny and her
   Elder Sister—Burney’s Second Marriage—Change of Plans—Mrs.
   Burney lectures Fanny—An _Auto da Fé_—Origin of ‘Evelina’—
   Burney takes his Doctor’s Degree—His Essay on Comets—
   Preparations for the ‘History of Music’—Musical Tour in
   France and Italy—House in Queen Square—German Tour—Fanny’s
   Occupation during his Absence—Removal to St. Martin’s
   Street—Newton’s House—The Observatory—Fanny’s Arrival at

                               CHAPTER II.

 Life in St. Martin’s Street—Increase of Fame and Friends—         32-59
   Garrick’s First Call—Confusion—The Hairdresser—‘Tag-rag
   and Bobtail’—The History of Histories—Imitation of Dr.
   Johnson—The Great Roscius—Mr. Crisp’s Gout—Correspondence
   between him and Fanny—Dr. Burney’s Concerts—Abyssinian
   Bruce—Supper in St. Martin’s Street—Italian Singers—A
   Musical Evening—Visit of Count Orloff—His Stature and
   Jewels—Condescension—A Matrimonial Duet—The Empress’s
   Miniature—Jemmy Twitcher—Present State of St. Martin’s
   Street—Mr. and Mrs. Thrale—Dr. Johnson—Visit of the
   Thrales and Johnson—Appearance of Dr. Johnson—His
   Conversation—His Contempt for Music—Meeting of Dr. Johnson
   and Mr. Greville—Mrs. Thrale Defiant—Signor Piozzi

                              CHAPTER III.

 ‘Evelina’—Date of its Composition—Negotiations with               60-99
   Publishers—Dr. Burney’s Consent—Publication—Illness of the
   Author—Visit to Chesington—Her Father reads the Book—Mrs.
   Thrale and Mrs. Cholmondeley—Exciting News—Fanny’s
   Success—Nancy Dawson—The Secret told to Mr. Crisp—
   Characters in ‘Evelina’—Dinner at Streatham—Dr. Johnson—
   David Garrick—The Unclubbable Man—Curiosity as to
   Authorship of ‘Evelina’—The Bookseller in the Dark—Visits
   to the Thrales—Table Talk—Mr. Smith—Goldsmith—Johnson and
   the Scotch—Civil for Four—Sir Joshua Reynolds—Mrs.
   Montagu—Boswell—The Branghtons—Mrs. Cholmondeley—Talk with
   Sir Joshua—Is it True?—Mrs. Cholmondeley’s Whimsical
   Manner—Visit to her House—Mr. Cumberland—A Hint for a
   Comedy—A Charmed Circle—Sheridan—Not a Fair Question—
   Pressed to Write for the Stage—Flattered by Compliments

                               CHAPTER IV.

 Return to Streatham—Murphy the Dramatist—A Proposed Comedy—     100-131
   ‘The Witlings’—Adverse Judgment of Mr. Crisp and Dr.
   Burney—Fanny to Mr. Crisp—Dr. Johnson on Miss Burney—A
   Visit to Brighton—Cumberland—An Eccentric Character—Sir
   Joshua’s Prices—Tragedies—Actors and Singers—Regrets for
   the Comedy—Crisp’s Reply—The Lawrence Family at Devizes—
   Lady Miller’s Vase—The Gordon Riots—Precipitate Retreat—
   Grub Street—Sudden Death of Mr. Thrale—Idleness and Work—A
   Sister of the Craft—The Mausoleum of Julia—Progress of
   ‘Cecilia’ through the Press—Crisp’s Judgment on ‘Cecilia’—
   Johnson and ‘Cecilia’—Publication of ‘Cecilia’—Burke—His
   Letter to Miss Burney—Assembly at Miss Monckton’s—New
   Acquaintances—Soame Jenyns—Illness and Death of Crisp—Mrs.
   Thrale’s Struggles—Ill-health of Johnson—Mr. Burney
   Organist of Chelsea Hospital—Mrs. Thrale marries Piozzi—
   Last Interview with Johnson—His Death

                               CHAPTER V.

 Mrs. Delany—Her Childhood—Her First Marriage—Swift—Dr.          132-166
   Delany—The Dowager Duchess of Portland—Mrs. Delany a
   Favourite at Court—Her Flower-Work—Miss Burney’s First
   Visit to Mrs. Delany—Meets the Duchess of Portland—Mrs.
   Sleepe—Crisp—Growth of Friendship with Mrs. Delany—Society
   at her House—Mrs. Delany’s Reminiscences—The Lockes of
   Norbury Park—Mr. Smelt—Dr. Burney has an Audience of the
   King and Queen—The King’s Bounty to Mrs. Delany—Miss
   Burney Visits Windsor—Meets the King and Queen—‘Evelina’—
   Invention Exhausted—The King’s Opinion of Voltaire,
   Rousseau, and Shakespeare—The Queen and Bookstalls—
   Expectation—Journey to Windsor—The Terrace—Dr. Burney’s
   Disappointment—Proposal of the Queen to Miss Burney—Doubts
   and Fears—An Interview—The Decision—Mistaken Criticism—
   Burke’s Opinion—A Misconception—Horace Walpole’s Regret—
   Miss Burney’s Journals of her Life at Court—Sketches of
   Character—The King and Queen—Mrs. Schwellenberg—The
   Queen’s Lodge—Miss Burney’s Apartments—A Day’s Duties—
   Royal Snuff—Fictitious Names in the Diary—The Princesses—A
   Royal Birthday—A Walk on the Terrace—The Infant Princess

                               CHAPTER VI.

 Royal Visit to Nuneham—A Present from the Queen—Official        167-188
   Exhortations—Embarrassments at Nuneham—A Laborious Sunday—
   Hairdressing—The Court visits Oxford—Journey thither—
   Reception by the University—Address and Reply—Kissing
   Hands—Christchurch—Fatigues of the Suite—Refreshment under
   Difficulties—A Surprise—The Routine of Court Life—The
   Equerries—Draughts in the Palace—Early Prayers—
   Barley-water—The London Season—Mrs. Siddons—Mrs.
   Schwellenberg’s Apartments—Her Tame Frogs—Her Behaviour to
   Miss Burney—Cruel Treatment—A Change for the Better—
   Newspaper Reports—Conversation with the Queen—Miss Burney
   as Reader—Her Attainments, Tastes, and Power

                              CHAPTER VII.

 The Trial of Warren Hastings—Westminster Hall—Description of    189-200
   it on the Opening Day of the Trial—Edmund Burke—The other
   Managers—Procession of the Peers—Entrance of the
   Defendant—The Arraignment—Speech of Lord Chancellor
   Thurlow—Reply of Warren Hastings—Opening of the Trial—Mr.
   Windham—His Admiration of Dr. Johnson—His Reflections on
   the Spectacle—Bearing of the Lord Chancellor—Windham on
   Hastings—William Pitt—Major Scott—Conversation with
   Windham—Partisanship—Close of the First Day’s Proceedings—
   Conference on it with the Queen—Another Day at the Trial—
   Burke’s Great Speech—Resemblance between Hastings and
   Windham—Fox’s Eloquence—Death of Mrs. Delany

                              CHAPTER VIII.

 The King’s Health—Royal Visit to Cheltenham—Excursions—         201-229
   Robert Raikes—Colonel Digby—The Duke of York—The Court
   attends the Musical Festival at Worcester—Return to
   Windsor—M. de Lalande, the Astronomer—His Compliments—His
   Volubility—Illness of the King—The King grows worse—‘The
   Queen is my Physician’—Alarm and Agitation—Grief of the
   Queen—The King Insane—Arrival of the Prince of Wales—
   Paroxysm of the King at Dinner—The Queen Ill—The
   Physicians—The Royal Pair separated—The Prince takes the
   Government of the Palace—Prayers for the King’s Recovery—
   The King and his Equerries—Sir Lucas Pepys—A Privy
   Council—Preparations for leaving Windsor—Departure for
   Kew—Mournful Spectacle—Mrs. Schwellenberg arrives

                               CHAPTER IX.

 State of Kew Palace—Dr. Willis and his Son called in—           230-250
   Progress under the New Doctors—Party Spirit—The Regency
   Question—Attacks on the Queen—Fluctuations in the King’s
   State—Violence of Burke—Extraordinary Scene between the
   King and Miss Burney in Kew Gardens—Marked Improvement of
   the King—The Regency Bill postponed—The King informs Miss
   Burney of his Recovery—The Restoration—Demonstrations of
   Joy—Return to Windsor—Old Routine resumed—Reaction

                               CHAPTER X.

 Royal Visit to Weymouth—Lyndhurst—Village Loyalty—Arrival at    251-277
   Weymouth—Bathing to Music—Mrs. Gwynn—Mrs. Siddons—The
   Royal Party at the Rooms—First Sight of Mr. Pitt—The
   Marquis of Salisbury—Royal Tour—Visit to Longleat—Mrs.
   Delany—Bishop Ken—Tottenham Park—Return to Windsor—
   Progress of the French Revolution—Colonel Digby’s
   Marriage—Miss Burney’s Situation—A Senator—Tax on
   Bachelors—Reading to the Queen—Miss Burney’s Melancholy—
   Proposal for her Retirement—Her Tedious Solitude—Her
   Literary Inactivity—Her Declining Health—A Friendly Cabal—
   Windham and the Literary Club—James Boswell—Miss Burney’s
   Memorial to the Queen—Leave of Absence proposed—The Queen
   and Mrs. Schwellenberg—Serious Illness of Miss Burney—
   Discussions on her Retirement—A Day at the Hastings Trial—
   The Defence—A Lively Scene—The Duke of Clarence—Parting
   with the Royal Family—Miss Burney receives a Pension—Her
   Final Retirement

                               CHAPTER XI.

 Chelsea Hospital—Tour to Devonshire—Visit to Bath—              278-292
   Reminiscences—The Duchess of Devonshire—Return Home—
   Literary Pursuits resumed—Attempts at Tragedy—Social
   Engagements—Death of Sir Joshua Reynolds—A Public
   Breakfast at Mrs. Montagu’s—Mrs. Hastings—Mr. Boswell—
   Visit to Mrs. Crewe—The Burke Family—Meeting with Edmund
   Burke—Burke and the French Revolution—Charles Fox—Lord
   Loughborough—Mr. Erskine—His Egotism—The French Refugees
   in England—Bury St. Edmunds—Madame de Genlis—The Duke de
   Liancourt—The Settlement at Mickleham—Count de Narbonne—
   The Chevalier d’Arblay—Visit of Miss Burney to Norfolk—
   Death of Mr. Francis—Return to London

                              CHAPTER XII.

 Miss Burney at Norbury Park—Execution of the French King—       293-314
   Madame de Staël and Talleyrand at Mickleham—Miss Burney’s
   Impressions of M. d’Arblay—Proposed Marriage—Visit to
   Chesington—The Marriage takes place—A Happy Match—The
   General as Gardener—Madame d’Arblay resumes her Pen—Birth
   of a Son—‘Edwy and Elgiva’—Acquittal of Warren Hastings—
   Publishing Plans—The Subscription List—Publication of
   ‘Camilla’—Visit of the Author to Windsor—Interview with
   the King and Queen—A Compliment from their Majesties—The
   Royal Family on the Terrace—Princess Elizabeth—Great Sale
   of ‘Camilla’—Criticisms on the Work—Declension of Madame
   d’Arblay’s Style—Camilla Cottage—Wedded Happiness—Madame
   d’Arblay’s Comedy of ‘Love and Fashion’ withdrawn—Death of
   Mrs. Phillips—Straitened Circumstances—The d’Arblays go to
   France—Popularity of Bonaparte—Reception at the Tuileries
   and Review—War between England and France—Disappointments—
   Life at Passy—Difficulty of Correspondence—Madame
   d’Arblay’s Desire to return to England—Sails from Dunkirk

                              CHAPTER XIII.

 Madame d’Arblay’s Plans for her Son—Landing in England—         315-331
   Arrival at Chelsea—Saddening Change in Dr. Burney—
   Alexander d’Arblay at Cambridge—Publication of the
   ‘Wanderer’—Death of Dr. Burney—Madame d’Arblay presented
   to Louis XVIII.—M. d’Arblay appointed to the Corps de
   Gardes du Roi—Arrives in England and carries Madame back
   to France—Madame d’Arblay presented to the Duchesse
   d’Angoulême—The Hundred Days—Panic at Brussels—M. d’Arblay
   invalided—Settles in England—His Death—Remaining Days of
   Madame d’Arblay—Visit from Sir Walter Scott—The Memoirs of
   Dr. Burney—Tributes to their value—Death of Alexander
   d’Arblay—Death of Madame d’Arblay—Conclusion

                     Fanny Burney and her Friends.


                               CHAPTER I.

Birth—Parentage—The Macburneys—Early Life of Dr. Burney—Fulk Greville—
  Esther Sleepe—Lynn—Poland Street—Frances Burney’s Brothers and
  Sisters—Her Backwardness in Childhood—Her Mother’s Death—David
  Garrick—The Old Lady—The Wig-maker—Neglect of Fanny’s Education—Her
  Taste for Scribbling—Samuel Crisp—His Early Life—His Tragedy—Its
  Failure—His Chagrin—His Life at Hampton—His Retirement from the World—
  Crisp renews his Acquaintance with Burney—Becomes the Adviser of the
  Family—Burney’s Amiable Temper—Chesington Hall—Its Quaint Interior—
  Contrast between Fanny and her Elder Sister—Burney’s Second Marriage—
  Change of Plans—Mrs. Burney lectures Fanny—An _Auto da Fé_—Origin of
  ‘Evelina’—Burney takes his Doctor’s Degree—His Essay on Comets—
  Preparations for the ‘History of Music’—Musical Tour in France and
  Italy—House in Queen Square—German Tour—Fanny’s Occupation during his
  Absence—Removal to St. Martin’s Street—Newton’s House—The Observatory—
  Fanny’s Arrival at Womanhood.

Frances Burney was born at King’s Lynn on the 13th of June, 1752. She
was the second daughter, and third child, of Dr. Charles Burney, author
of the well-known ‘History of Music,’ by Esther Sleepe, his first wife.

It has been stated,[1] we know not on what authority, that Dr. Burney
was a descendant in the fifth degree of James Macburney, a native of
Scotland, who attended King James I. when he left that country to take
possession of the English throne. The doctor himself was certainly
unacquainted with this fact, if fact it be. His grandfather and father
were each named James Macburney, but they were both born at the village
of Great Hanwood, in Shropshire, where the former inherited a
considerable estate; there was no trace in their connections of Celtic
extraction; and Charles has recorded that he could never find at what
period any of his ancestors lived in Scotland or Ireland. Doubtless it
was the adventures of the two historical James Macburneys which led
Macaulay to conclude that the family was of Irish origin. James the
younger offended his father by eloping with an actress from the
Goodman’s Fields Theater. ‘The old gentleman could devise no more
judicious mode of wreaking vengeance on his undutiful boy than by
marrying the cook.’ He married some sort of domestic, at any rate, who
brought him a son, named Joseph, to whom he left all his property.
Joseph, however, soon ran through his fortune, and was reduced to earn
his bread as a dancing-master in Norfolk. His elder brother James
survived the actress, and though a poor widower with a swarm of
children, gained the hand of Miss Ann Cooper, an heiress and beauty, who
had refused the addresses of the celebrated Wycherley. After his second
marriage, James followed the profession of a portrait-painter, first at
Shrewsbury, and later at Chester. The number of his children rose to
twenty-two; the youngest being Charles, afterwards Dr. Burney, and a
twin sister, Susannah, who were born and baptized at Shrewsbury on the
12th of April, 1726; at which date their father still retained the name
of Macburney. When and why the Mac was dropped we are not informed, but
by the time Charles attained to manhood, the family in all its branches—
uncles and cousins, as well as brothers and sisters—had concurred in
adopting the more compact form of Burney.

The musical talents of Charles Burney showed themselves at an early age.
In his eighteenth year, the proficiency he had acquired under his eldest
half-brother, James Burney, organist of St. Mary’s, Shrewsbury,
recommended him to the notice of Dr. Arne, the composer of ‘Rule,
Britannia,’ who offered to take him as a pupil. In 1744, accordingly,
Charles was articled to the most famous English musician of that day,
and went to live in London. At the house of the no less famous Mrs.
Cibber,[2] who was sister of Dr. Arne, he had opportunities of mixing
with most of the persons then distinguished by their writings or their
performances in connection with the orchestra and the stage. At the end
of his third year with Arne, Burney acquired a still more useful patron.
Among the leaders of ton in the middle of last century was Fulk
Greville, a descendant of the favorite of Queen Elizabeth and friend of
Sir Philip Sidney. To a passion for field sports, horse-racing, and
gaming, this fine gentleman united an equally strong taste for more
refined pleasures, and his ample possessions enabled him to gratify
every inclination to the utmost. Greville met Burney at the shop of
Kirkman, the harpsichord-maker, and was so captivated with his playing
and lively conversation, that he paid Arne £300 to cancel the young
man’s articles, and took him to live with himself as a sort of musical
companion. The high-bred society to which he was now introduced prepared
Burney to take rank in later years as the most fashionable professor of
music, and one of the most polished wits of his time. In Greville’s town
circle, and at his country seat, Wilbury House, near Andover, his
dependent constantly encountered peers, statesmen, diplomatists,
macaronis, to whose various humours this son of a provincial
portrait-painter seems to have adapted himself as readily as if he had
been to the manner born. So firm a hold did he gain on his protector,
that neither the marriage of the latter, nor his own, appears in any
degree to have weakened his favour. When Greville chose to make a stolen
match with Miss Frances Macartney,[3] or, as the lady’s father expressed
it, ‘to take a wife out of the window whom he might just as well have
taken out of the door,’ Burney was employed to give the bride away. When
Burney himself became a benedict, Mr. and Mrs. Greville cordially
approved both the act and his choice, and Mrs. Greville subsequently
stood as godmother to Frances Burney.

It was in 1749 that Charles Burney took to wife the lady before
mentioned, who, on her mother’s side, was of French origin, and
grandchild of a Huguenot refugee named Dubois. Esther Sleepe herself was
bred in the City of London, and her future husband first saw her at the
house of his elder brother, Richard Burney, in Hatton Garden. To his
fashionable friends the marriage must have seemed an imprudent one, for
Miss Sleepe had no fortune to compensate for her obscure parentage. From
the ‘Memoirs of Dr. Burney,’[4] we learn that her father was a man of
ill conduct; but Fanny everywhere speaks with enthusiasm of her mother’s
mother. Somewhat strangely, this lady herself adhered to the Roman
Catholic creed, though she was the child of a man exiled by the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and though she suffered her own
daughter Esther to be brought up in the Anglican Communion. In view of
the union which Frances Burney afterwards contracted, it is as well to
bear in mind that one of her parents was partly of French extraction. In
consequence of his wife’s connections, Charles Burney on his marriage
hired a house in the City. He was presently elected organist of St.
Dionis Backchurch, produced several pieces of music, and laid himself
out to obtain pupils. These flocked to him from all sides. The Grevilles
had gone abroad shortly after he left them, but he could still count on
their influence, and that of the friends they had procured him, while he
found new supporters daily among the merchants and bankers east of
Temple Bar. His wife bore him a first-born son, who was baptized James,
according to the immemorial usage of the Burney race, and then a
daughter, who received her mother’s name of Esther. But when all things
looked fair and promising, the sky suddenly became overcast. The young
father’s health broke down: a violent attack of fever was succeeded by a
train of symptoms threatening consumption; and, as a last resource, he
was ordered by his medical adviser, the poet-physician Armstrong,[5] to
throw up his employments in London and go to live in the country.

In this emergency, Burney was offered and accepted the place of organist
at Lynn, whither he removed in 1751, and where he spent the nine
following years. His stipend was fixed at £100 a year, a handsome sum
for those days, and he largely added to it by giving music lessons in
the town, and in many of the great houses of Norfolk. The qualities
which had stood him in good stead in London proved equally acceptable to
the country gentlemen of East Anglia. ‘He scarcely ever entered one of
their houses upon terms of business without leaving it on terms of
intimacy.’ His journeys to Houghton, Holkham, Kimberley, Rainham and
Felbrig were performed on the back of his mare Peggy, who leisurely
padded along the sandy cross-roads, while the rider studied a volume of
Italian poetry with the aid of a dictionary which he carried in his
pocket. As Burney’s income grew, his family also increased. After his
third child, Frances, came another daughter, Susanna; next a second son,
who was called Charles, and then a fourth daughter, Charlotte. The keen
breezes from the Wash helped to brace his spare person, and though
constant riding about the country in winter was not desirable exercise,
Burney gradually reconciled himself to his provincial lot, which he
enlivened by laying plans for his ‘History of Music,’ corresponding with
the Grevilles and other old friends, and commencing an acquaintance by
letter with Dr. Johnson. In 1759, however, he gained some general
reputation by his musical setting of an ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, which
was performed with much applause at Ranelagh Gardens; and, stimulated by
the exhortations which reached him from various quarters, he prepared to
resume his career in the capital. Foremost in urging the step was Samuel
Crisp, whom he had met and taken for his mentor at Wilbury House, and of
whom we shall have more to say presently. To settle for life among the
foggy aldermen of Lynn, wrote Crisp, would be to plant his youth,
genius, hopes and fortune against a north wall. Burney took the warning,
and in 1760, having sufficiently recruited his constitution, he returned
to London with his wife and family.

He established himself in Poland Street, which, from having been in high
fashion, was then lapsing by degrees to the professional and the less
wealthy mercantile classes, though it still boasted among its
inhabitants the Duke of Chandos, besides several lesser personages whose
names were written in the peerage. This was the very situation for an
ambitious music-master of slender means but good connections. In a very
short time, we are told, Burney ‘had hardly an hour that was not
appropriated to some fair disciple.’ He began his round of lessons as
early as seven o’clock in the morning, and sometimes did not finish it
till eleven at night. He often dined in a hackney coach on the contents
of a sandwich-box and a flask of sherry and water, which he carried in
his pocket. The care of his six little ones of necessity devolved wholly
on their mother, who was well worthy of the charge. In talents and
accomplishments Mrs. Burney appears to have been at least the equal of
her husband. While she lived, a certain touch of Huguenot decision in
her added strength to his less strenuous nature; and her French blood
undoubtedly contributed its full share to the quick and lively parts
that in different degrees distinguished their children. These, as they
grew out of infancy, composed a group which, on every view that we get
of it, presents an extremely pleasant picture. In most cases, their
minds blossomed at an early period. The eldest daughter, Esther,
inherited her father’s musical genius; when only eight years of age she
performed with surprising skill on the harpsichord. James, the eldest
son, appears to have been a lad of spirit and vivacity. Beginning as ‘a
nominal midshipman’ at the age of ten, he chose the navy for his
profession, sailed twice round the world with Captain Cook, rose to the
rank of rear-admiral, and lived to have his ‘flashes of wild wit’
celebrated by Charles Lamb in one of the essays of ‘Elia.’ Susanna, the
favorite and special friend of our Fanny, has left letters worthy of
being printed on the same page with those of her famous sister, and her
power of writing showed itself sooner than did Fanny’s. Finally,
Charles,[6] the second son, though for some reason he quitted Cambridge
without taking a degree, made his mark in Greek criticism before
completing his twenty-fifth year; in that department of study, so speedy
a harvest affords sufficient proof of a forward spring. The fame of the
younger Dr. Charles Burney is now somewhat faded: in his prime, he was
classed with Porson and Parr as one of the three chief representatives
of English scholarship; and on his death his library was purchased by
the nation and placed in the British Museum.

The one marked exception to the rule of early development in the Burney
family was noted in the case of the daughter who was destined to be its
principal ornament. We are told that the most remarkable features of
Frances Burney’s childhood were her extreme shyness and her backwardness
at learning. At eight years of age, she did not even know her letters;
and her elder brother, who had a sailor’s love of practical jokes, used
to pretend to teach her to read, and give her the book upside down,
which, he said, she never found out. An officious acquaintance of her
mother suggested that the application of the little dunce might be
quickened by the rod, but the wiser parent replied that ‘she had no fear
about Fanny.’ Mrs. Burney, it is clear, favoured no forcing methods in
education. She was laid aside by illness shortly after the family’s
return to London, and, so long as her health lasted, seems to have given
regular teaching to the eldest of her daughters only, whose taste for
reading she very early began to form. “I perfectly recollect,” wrote
Fanny to Esther many years later, “child as I was, and never of the
party, this part of your education. At that very juvenile period, the
difference even of months makes a marked distinction in bestowing and
receiving instruction. I, also, was so peculiarly backward that even our
Susan stood before me; she could read when I knew not my letters. But,
though so sluggish to learn, I was always observant. Do you remember Mr.
Seaton denominating me at fifteen, the _silent, observant Miss Fanny_?
Well I recollect your reading with our dear mother all Pope’s works and
Pitt’s ‘Æneid.’ I recollect, also, your spouting passages from Pope,
that I learned from hearing you recite them, before—many years before—I
read them myself.”

Mrs. Burney died at the end of September, 1761. Towards the close of her
illness, Fanny and Susan, with their brother Charles, had been sent to
board with a Mrs. Sheeles, who kept a school in Queen Square, that they
might be out of the way; and this experienced judge of children was
greatly struck by the intensity of Fanny’s grief at a loss which girls
of nine are apt to realize very imperfectly.

The truth seems to be that Fanny’s backwardness and apparent dulness
were simply due to the numbing influence of nervousness and extreme
diffidence. Her father, the less indulgent to shyness in others because
he had experienced it in himself, for a long time did her very imperfect
justice. Looking back in later years, he could remember that her talent
for observing and representing points of character, her lively
invention, even her turn for composition, had shown themselves before
she had learnt to spell her way through the pages of a fairy tale. A
magician more potent than any books helped to call forth the germs of
her latent powers. Among the friends most intimate in Poland Street
during the months following Mrs. Burney’s death were David Garrick and
his engaging wife, La Violetta. While exerting themselves to console the
widower, this brilliant and kindly couple did not neglect his motherless
family. ‘Garrick, who was passionately fond of children, never withheld
his visits on account of the absence of the master of the house.’ If Mr.
Burney was not at home, the great actor, keenly alive to his own gift of
bestowing pleasure, would devote himself to entertaining the little
ones. The rapture with which his entrance was greeted by that small
audience charmed him as much as the familiar applause of Drury Lane. The
prince of comedians and mimics was content to lavish all the resources
of his art on a handful of girls and boys. When he left them, they spent
the rest of the day in recalling the sallies of his humour, and the
irresistible gestures which had set them off. So Fanny tells us, the
least noticed, probably, yet the most attentive and observant member of
the whole group. On many a happy night, the elder ones, in charge of
some suitable guardian, were permitted to occupy Mrs. Garrick’s private
box at the theatre. There they beheld ‘the incomparable Roscius’ take
the stage, and followed him with eyes of such eager admiration, that it
seemed—so their amused father told his friend—

                         ‘They did, as was their duty,
                 Worship the shadow of his shoe-tie!’

Burney relates of Fanny that ‘she used, after having seen a play in Mrs.
Garrick’s box, to take the actors off, and _compose_ speeches for their
characters, for she could not read them.’ But, he continues, in company
or before strangers, she was silent, backward, and timid, even to
sheepishness; and, from her shyness, had such profound gravity and
composure of features, that those of Dr. Burney’s friends who went often
to his home, and entered into the different humours of the children,
never called Fanny by any other name, from the time she had reached her
eleventh year, than ‘the old lady.’

Yet the shyest children will now and then forget their shyness. This
seems to be the moral of a story which the worthy doctor goes on to tell
in his rather prolix and pompous style. “There lived next door to me, at
that time, in Poland Street, and in a private house, a capital
hair-merchant, who furnished perukes to the judges and gentlemen of the
law. The hair-merchant’s female children and mine used to play together
in the little garden behind the house; and, unfortunately, one day, the
door of the wig-magazine being left open, they each of them put on one
of those dignified ornaments of the head, and danced and jumped about in
a thousand antics, laughing till they screamed at their own ridiculous
figures. Unfortunately, in their vagaries, one of the flaxen wigs, said
by the proprietor to be worth upwards of ten guineas—in those days an
enormous price—fell into a tub of water, placed for shrubs in the little
garden, and lost all its gorgon buckle,[7] and was declared by the owner
to be totally spoilt. He was extremely angry, and chid very severely his
own children, when my little daughter, ‘the old lady,’ then ten years of
age, advancing to him, as I was informed, with great gravity and
composure, sedately said, ‘What signifies talking so much about an
accident? The wig is wet, to be sure; and the wig was a good wig, to be
sure: but ’tis of no use to speak of it any more, because _what’s done
can’t be undone_.’”

Meanwhile, little was done on any regular plan for Fanny’s education.
She had not been suffered to remain at the school in which she was
temporarily placed during her mother’s last illness, nor was she sent to
any other. When, after the lapse of two or three years, Burney found
himself in a position to put two of his girls to school at Paris, he
selected the third, Susanna, rather than Fanny, to accompany the eldest
sister, proposing to send Fanny and Charlotte together at a future time.
Two reasons were assigned for this arrangement. One was the notion that
Susanna, who inherited her father’s consumptive habit, required change
of climate more than the second daughter. The other was a fear lest
Fanny’s deep reverence for her Roman Catholic grandmother might incline
her to adopt the same form of faith, and thus render her perversion
easy, if, when so young, she fell within the influence of some
enterprising French chaplain. We cannot help suspecting, however, that
the true cause of Fanny being passed over on this occasion was an
impression that Susanna was a girl of brighter parts, and better fitted
to benefit by the teaching of a Paris _pension_.

From whatever motive, Fanny was left behind, nor was any instructor
provided for her at home. The widower disliked the idea of introducing a
governess into his house, though he had no time to spare even for
directing his daughter’s studies. She was thus entirely self-educated,
and had no other spur to exertion than her unbounded affection for her
father, who excused himself for his neglect of her training by the
reflection that ‘she had a natural simplicity and probity about her
which wanted no teaching.’ In her eleventh year she had learned to read,
and began to scribble little poems and works of invention, though in a
character that was illegible to everyone but herself. ‘Her love of
reading,’ we are told, ‘did not display itself till two or three years
later.’ Her father had a good library, over which she was allowed to
range at will; and in course of time she became acquainted with a fair
portion of its lighter contents. The solitary child kept a careful
account of the authors she studied, making extracts from them, and
adding remarks which, we are assured, showed that her mind was riper
than her knowledge. Yet she never developed any strong or decided taste
for literature. She never became even a devourer of books. Indeed, it
may be doubted whether she did not always derive more pleasure from her
own compositions than from those of the greatest writers. Plying her pen
without an effort, the leisure which most intellectual persons give to
reading, Fanny devoted in great part to producing manuscripts of her
own. Childish epics, dramas, and romances, were not the only ventures of
her youth: she began keeping a diary at the age of fifteen, and, in
addition to her published novels and sundry plays which have perished,
journals, memoirs, and letters, of which a small proportion only have
seen the light, occupied most of the vacant hours in her active

During this period of self-education, the person from whom Fanny
received most notice and attention appears to have been her father’s old
friend, Samuel Crisp. This gentleman had gone abroad while the Burneys
were in Norfolk, and had taken up his abode at Rome, where he passed
several years, improving his taste in music, painting, and sculpture,
and forgetting for a while the young English professor who had
interested him under Greville’s roof. Having at length returned to
England, he, some time after Mrs. Burney’s death, met Burney by accident
at the house of a common acquaintance. The casual encounter immediately
revived the old intimacy. Crisp at once found his way to the house in
Poland Street, and, like Garrick, was attracted by the group of children
there. As the two eldest of these and the lively Susanna were soon
afterwards removed to a distance, the chief share in his regard
naturally fell to the lot of Fanny. Hence, while all the children came
to look upon him with a sort of filial feeling, he was in a special
manner appropriated by Fanny as ‘her dearest daddy.’ And there were
points in Crisp’s temperament which harmonized well with the girl’s shy
yet aspiring character. Both, in their turn, set their hearts on the
attainment of literary renown; both had the same tendency to shrink into
themselves. Success changed Fanny from a silent domestic drudge into a
social celebrity; failure helped to change Crisp from a shining man of
fashion into a moody recluse.

The story of this strange man has been sketched by Macaulay, but it has
so close a bearing on our heroine’s life, that we cannot avoid shortly
retracing it here. A handsome person, dignified manners, excellent
talents, and an accomplished taste procured for Crisp, in his prime,
acceptance and favour, not only with Fulk Greville and his set, but also
with a large number of other persons distinguished in the great world.
Thus, he was admitted to the acquaintance of the highly descended and
wealthy Margaret Cavendish Harley, then Duchess Dowager of Portland,
whom we mention here because through her Crisp became known to Mrs.
Delany, by whom Fanny was afterwards introduced to the Royal Family.
Another of his friends was Mrs. Montagu, who then, as he used to say,
was ‘peering at fame,’ and gradually rising to the rank of a lady
patroness of letters. And among the most intimate of his associates was
the Earl of Coventry, at the time when that ‘grave young lord,’ as
Walpole calls him, after long dangling, married the most beautiful of
the beautiful Gunnings. Now, about the date when our Fanny first saw the
light, it was buzzed abroad in the coterie of Crisp’s admirers that
their hero had finished a tragedy on the story of Virginia. A lively
expectation was at once awakened. But Garrick, though a personal friend
of the author, hesitated and delayed to gratify the public with the rich
feast which was believed to be in store for it. The utmost efforts were
employed to overcome his reluctance. The great Mr. Pitt was prevailed on
to read the play, and to pronounce in its favour. Lord Coventry exerted
all his influence with the coy manager. Yet not until Lady Coventry
herself had joined her solicitations to those of her husband was
‘Virginia’ put in rehearsal at Drury Lane. The piece was produced in
February, 1754, and ran several nights, buoyed up by the acting and
popularity of Garrick, who contributed a remarkably good epilogue.[8]
But no patronage or support could keep alive a drama which, in truth,
had neither poetical merit nor the qualities of a good acting play to
recommend it. ‘Virginia’ was very soon withdrawn, and, as usual, the
writer, while cruelly mortified by his failure, attributed it to every
cause but the right one. Lord Coventry advised alterations, which Crisp
hastened to execute, but Garrick, though civil, was determined that so
ineffective a muse should not again cumber his stage. His firmness, of
course, cost him the friendship of the ungrateful Crisp, who, conscious
of considerable powers, and unable to perceive that he had mistaken
their proper application, inveighed with equal bitterness against
manager, performers, and the public, and in sore dudgeon betook himself
across the sea to Italy. Macaulay, indeed, will have it that his
disappointment ruined his temper and spirits, and turned him into ‘a
cynic, and a hater of mankind.’ But in this, as in too many of the
essayist’s trenchant statements, something of accuracy is sacrificed for
the sake of effect. Crisp appears to have enjoyed himself not a little
in Italy, and on his return, though he did not again settle in London,
he fixed his first abode as near to it as the courtly village of
Hampton, where he furnished a small house, filling it with pictures,
statuary, and musical instruments, as became a man of taste. Far from
shunning society in this luxurious retreat, he entertained so many
guests there that his hospitality in a short time made a serious inroad
on his small fortune. Chagrin at his imprudence brought on a severe
attack of gout; and then it was that, broken alike in health and
finances, he resolved on secluding himself from the world. Having sold
his villa and its contents, he removed a few miles off to a solitary
mansion belonging to an old friend, Christopher Hamilton, who, like
himself, had lost the battle of life, and desired to be considered as
dead to mankind.

Chesington Hall, which thenceforth became the joint residence of this
pair of hermits, stood on an eminence rising from a wide and nearly
desolate common, about midway between the towns of Epsom and Kingston;
the neglected buildings were crumbling to pieces from age, having been
begun in the same year in which Wolsey laid the first stone of Hampton
Court; and the homestead was surrounded by fields, that for a long
period had been so ploughed up as to leave no road or even regular
footpath open across them. In this hiding-place Crisp fixed his abode
for the rest of his life. So isolated was the spot that strangers could
not reach it without a guide. But the inhabitants desired to have as few
visitors as possible. Only as the spring of each year came round would
Crisp, while his strength allowed, quit his refuge for a few weeks, to
amuse himself with the picture-shows and concerts of the London season.

It seems to have been during one of these excursions that Burney met
Crisp again after their long separation. The revival of their friendship
gave the solitary man one more connecting link with the outside world.
Down to that time Crisp’s only visitor in his retreat seems to have been
his sister, Mrs. Sophia Gast, of Burford, in Oxfordshire. Now to Burney
also was entrusted the clue for a safe route across the wild common to
Chesington Hall, while from all others, including Mr. Greville, it was
still steadfastly withheld. There is no reason to suppose that the
acquaintances whom Crisp thus relinquished were more faithless than a
poor man’s great friends usually are. He had been flattered with hopes
of obtaining some public appointment through their interest; but his
health had failed before the value of the promises made to him could be
fairly tested. When restored strength might have rendered seclusion
irksome, and employment acceptable, his pride rebelled against further
solicitation, and fixed him in the solitude where his poverty and lack
of energy alike escaped reproach. Charles Burney alone, from whom he had
nothing to expect, and who had always looked up to him, was admitted
where others were excluded.

The modern village of Chesington lies about two miles to the north-west
of the railway-station at Ewell. Some patches of heathy common still
remain. Though not so solitary a place as in the days of which we write,
Chesington has still a lonely look.[9]

Crisp, in his sanctuary, and his occasional secret journeys to London,
resumed his office of mentor to Burney, and became also the confidential
adviser of Burney’s daughters. For such trust he was eminently
qualified; since, to borrow the words of Macaulay, though he was a bad
poet, he was a scholar, a thinker, and an excellent counsellor. He
surpassed his younger friend, Charles, in general knowledge and force of
mind, as much as he was surpassed by Charles in social tact and
pliability of temper. And Burney was far from resenting or grudging the
influence which Crisp acquired in his family; for Burney was a
sweet-natured as well as a sensible man. No pitiful vanity or
treacherous jealousy lay hid under his genial and gracious exterior.
Conscious, apparently, that both from too great easiness of disposition,
and from his manifold engagements, he was ill-fitted to discharge all
the duties devolving on him as sole surviving parent, he cordially
welcomed the assistance of his old and valued friend. Mrs. Thrale
afterwards complained that Dr. Burney liked to keep his hold on his
children; but the engrossing lady patroness seems to have meant only
that he objected, as well he might, to have Fanny disposed of for months
or years at a time without regard to his wishes or convenience. He was
never disturbed by unworthy alarms lest some interloping well-wisher
should steal away the hearts of his children from himself. He stooped to
no paltry manœuvres to prevent them from becoming too much attached
to this or that friend. He certainly did not interfere to check the
warmth of his daughters’ regard for the rugged old cynic of Chesington,
nor put any restraint on the correspondence which grew up between Fanny
and her ‘dearest daddy.’ And he reaped the full reward of his
unselfishness, or, we should rather say, of his straightforward good
sense. No son or daughter was ever estranged from him by the feeling
that his jealousy had robbed them of a useful connection or appreciative
ally. Fanny’s fondness for her adopted father, as might have been
expected, did not in the least diminish her love for her natural parent.
‘She had always a great affection for me,’ wrote Dr. Burney at the close
of his life. The latter was, indeed, the standard by which she generally
tried the claims of any other person to be considered admirable or
charming. In her twenty-sixth year she expressed her enthusiasm for her
newly-made friend, Mrs. Thrale, by saying: ‘I never before saw a person
who so strongly resembles my dear father.’ At forty-one, she described
her husband as being ‘so very like my beloved father in disposition,
humour, and taste, that the day never passes in which I do not exclaim:
“How you remind me of my father!”’

Crisp himself, at the time when Fanny made his acquaintance, had no
pretension to gentle manners or a graceful address; but, like many other
disappointed men who assume the character of misanthropes, he possessed
at bottom a warm, and even tender, heart, and was particularly fond of
young persons. In his intimate intercourse with the Burney family, all
ceremony was discarded; towards the junior members he adopted a plain,
rough style of speech, which, being unmistakably playful, left them
always quite at home with him. Very soon the death of Crisp’s companion
in retirement rendered the society of the Burneys more indispensable to
the survivor, while it placed him in a better position for receiving
these visits. The male line of the Hamiltons ended in Christopher, and
his dilapidated estate descended to a maiden sister, Mrs. Sarah
Hamilton. Rather than sell the property, this ancient lady, under
Crisp’s advice, divided the capacious old Hall between herself and
Farmer Woodhatch, who rented and cultivated what remained of the lands.
To assist her in keeping up the residence she still retained, Mrs.
Hamilton called in as ‘lady help’ a rustic niece, named Kitty Cooke, and
Crisp became her lodger, securing to his own use ‘a favourite apartment,
with a light and pleasant closet at the end of a long corridor.’ In this
closet a great part of Burney’s ‘History of Music’ was written. There
was a larger scheme, also, at this time, for turning the whole suite of
rooms into a boarding establishment, but applicants for accommodation in
so remote and obscure an abode were likely to be few in number. Mrs.
Gast, however, came thither from time to time, and Frances Burney and
her sisters were often there. We shall see, in due course, how the
animated scenes of the famous novel, ‘Cecilia,’ or most of them, were
elaborated within those mouldering walls. To the end of her life the
author’s thoughts wandered back with delight to the quaint old place.
Her memory let nothing slip: “not a nook or corner; nor a dark passage
‘leading to nothing’; nor a hanging tapestry of prim demoiselles and
grim cavaliers; nor a tall canopied bed tied up to the ceiling; nor
japan cabinets of two or three hundred drawers of different dimensions;
nor an oaken corner-cupboard, carved with heads, thrown in every
direction, save such as might let them fall on men’s shoulders; nor a
window stuck in some angle close to the ceiling of a lofty slip of a
room; nor a quarter of a staircase, leading to some quaint unfrequented
apartment; nor a wooden chimney-piece, cut in diamonds, squares, and
round knobs, surmounting another of blue and white tiles, representing,
_vis-à-vis_, a dog and a cat, as symbols of married life and

The time arrived when, in accordance with their father’s original
design, Frances and Charlotte Burney should have been placed at school
in Paris in succession to Esther and Susanna. Burney presently made
another journey to the French capital to bring back the pair of sisters
who had completed the term of two years assigned for their education
there, but he was not accompanied by either of his other daughters. He
was not deterred from taking them by any misgiving as to the results of
his first experiment, which, we are assured, had fully answered his
expectations, but rather by some uncertainty of means and plans,
connected, perhaps, in part with his approaching second marriage. Some
lines from the pen of Susanna have been preserved, which are said to
have been written shortly after her return, and which, if the date
ascribed to them be correct, would show that the writer, who was then
barely fourteen, was a remarkably forward girl of her age. As this short
composition sketches in contrast Susanna’s two elder sisters, we give it

“Hetty seems a good deal more lively than she used to appear at Paris;
whether it is that her spirits are better, or that the great liveliness
of the inhabitants made her appear grave there by comparison, I know
not: but she was there remarkable for being _sérieuse_, and is here for
being gay and lively. She is a most sweet girl. My sister Fanny is
unlike her in almost everything, yet both are very amiable, and love
each other as sincerely as ever sisters did. The characteristics of
Hetty seem to be wit, generosity and openness of heart: Fanny’s—sense,
sensibility, and bashfulness, and even a degree of prudery. Her
understanding is superior, but her diffidence gives her a bashfulness
before company with whom she is not intimate, which is a disadvantage to
her. My eldest sister shines in conversation, because, though very
modest, she is totally free from any _mauvaise honte_: were Fanny
equally so, I am persuaded she would shine no less. I am afraid that my
eldest sister is too communicative, and that my sister Fanny is too
reserved. They are both charming girls—_des filles comme il y en a

Burney’s second marriage took place not long after the return of Esther
and Susanna from Paris. His choice on this occasion was an intimate
friend of the first Mrs. Burney, whom she succeeded after an interval of
six years. This lady was the widow of Mr. Stephen Allen, a merchant of
Lynn, and by him the parent of several children. The young Allens had
been playmates of the young Burneys. If not equal in mind or person to
the adored Esther Sleepe, Mrs. Allen was a handsome and well-instructed
woman, and proved an excellent stepmother to Fanny and her sisters, as
well as an admirable wife to their father. For some reason or other, the
nature of which does not very clearly appear, it was judged desirable
that not only the engagement between the widow and widower should be
kept secret, but that their wedding should be celebrated in private.
They were married some time in the spring of 1768, at St. James’s,
Piccadilly, by the curate, an old acquaintance of the bridegroom, their
intention being confided to three other friends only. Crisp, who was one
of these, had clearly no mind that Burney’s new connection should put an
end to their alliance, or deprive himself of the relief which the visits
of the widower and his children had afforded to the monotony of his
retirement. The freshly married couple carried their secret and their
happiness ‘to the obscure skirts of the then pathless, and nearly
uninhabited Chesington Common, where Mr. Crisp had engaged for them a
rural and fragrant retreat, at a small farm-house in a little hamlet a
mile or two from Chesington Hall.’

The secret, we are further told, as usual in matrimonial concealments,
was faithfully preserved for a time by careful vigilance, and then
escaped through accident. Betrayed by the loss of a letter, Mrs. Burney
came openly to town to be introduced to her husband’s circle, and
presently took her place at the head of his household in Poland Street.
The young people on both sides accepted their new relationships with
pleasure. The long-deferred scheme of sending Fanny and her youngest
sister to Paris was now finally abandoned. Susanna undertook to instruct
Fanny in French, and Charlotte was put to school in Norfolk. For some
years the united families spent their summer holidays at Lynn, where
Mrs. Burney had a dower-house. But, whether in town or country, Frances
and Susanna were specially devoted to each other. Susan alone was
Fanny’s confidante in her literary attempts.

As the latter’s age increased, her passion for writing became more
confirmed. Every scrap of white paper that could be seized upon without
question or notice was at once covered with her manuscript. She was not
long in finding out that her turn was mainly for story-telling and
humorous description. The two girls laughed and cried together over the
creations of the elder’s fancy, but the native timidity of the young
author, and still more, perhaps, her father’s low estimate of her
capacity, made her apprehend nothing but ridicule if what she scribbled
were disclosed to others. She worked then under the rose, imposing the
strictest silence on her faithful accomplice. When in London, she plied
her pen in a closet up two pair of stairs, that was appropriated to the
younger children as a playroom. At Lynn, she would shut herself up to
write in a summer-house, which went by the name of ‘The Cabin.’ Yet all
her simple precautions could not long elude the suspicion of her
sharp-sighted stepmother. The second Mrs. Burney was a bustling,
sociable person, who did not approve of young ladies creeping out of
sight to study; though herself fond of books, and, as we learn, a
particular admirer of Sterne’s ‘Sentimental Journey,’ then recently
published, she was a matron of the period, and could not tolerate the
idea of a young woman under her control venturing on the disesteemed
career of literature. The culprit, therefore, was seriously and
frequently admonished to check her scribbling propensity. Some morsels
of her compositions, falling into the hands of Mrs. Burney, appear to
have added point to the censor’s remarks. Fanny was warned not to waste
time and thought over idle inventions; and she was further cautioned,
and not unreasonably, according to the prevailing notions of the day, as
to the discredit she would incur if she came before the public as a
female novelist. The future author of ‘Cecilia’ was only too ready to
assent to this view, and to cry _peccavi_. She bowed before her
stepmother’s rebukes, and prepared herself inwardly for a great act of
sacrifice. Seizing an opportunity when her father was at Chesington, and
Mrs. Burney was in Norfolk, ‘she made over to a bonfire, in a paved
play-court, her whole stock’ of prose manuscripts.

The fact of the _auto da fé_ rests on the authority of the penitent
herself: her niece and biographer, Mrs. Barrett, adds that Susanna stood
by, weeping at the pathetic spectacle; but this is perhaps only a
legendary accretion to the tale. It seems certain that Fanny fell into
error, when, long years afterwards, she wrote of the incident as having
occurred on her fifteenth birthday.[11] Fanny was never very careful
about her dates, and she was unquestionably more than fifteen when her
father’s second marriage took place. In spite of this, we are not
warranted in questioning Mrs. Barrett’s express statement that her
aunt’s famous Diary was commenced at the age of fifteen. Though of that
portion of the Diary which belongs to the years preceding the
publication of ‘Evelina,’ only the opening passages have been printed,
and though the style of these may seem to betoken a more advanced age
than that mentioned, the whole was before the biographer when she wrote,
and the contents must have spoken for themselves.

Frances Burney had burned her papers with the full intention of breaking
off altogether the baneful habit of authorship. Doubtless, however, she
did not consider that her resolution of total abstinence debarred her
from keeping a journal; and she was not long in discovering that,
however steadfastly she might resist the impulses of her fancy, its
wings were always pluming themselves for a flight. The latest-born of
her literary bantlings committed to the flames had been a tale setting
forth the fortunes and fate of Caroline Evelyn, who was feigned to be
the daughter of a gentleman by a low-bred wife, and, after the death of
her father, to contract a clandestine marriage with a faithless baronet,
and then to survive her husband’s desertion of her just long enough to
give birth to a female child. The closing incident of this tragic and
tragically-destroyed production left a lively impression on the mind of
the writer. Her imagination dwelt on the singular situations to which
the infant, as she grew up, would be exposed by the lot that placed her
between the rival claims of her vulgar grandmother and her mother’s more
refined connections, and on the social contrasts and collisions, at once
unusual and natural, which the supposed circumstances might be expected
to occasion. In this way, from the ashes of the ‘History of Caroline
Evelyn’ sprang Frances Burney’s first published work, ‘Evelina; or, A
Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.’ We do not know how long a time
expired from the burning of her manuscripts before Fanny relapsed into
the sin of fiction-scribbling; but the flood of her invention probably
rose the faster for being pent up. Irresistibly and almost
unconsciously, she tells us, the whole story of ‘Evelina’ was laid up in
her memory before a paragraph had been committed to paper. Even when her
conscience had ceased to struggle, her opportunities for jotting down
the ideas which haunted her were few and far between. She had to write
in stolen moments, for she was under the eye of her stepmother. The
demands on her time, too, became greater than they had been when
Caroline Evelyn was her heroine. Her Diary occupied a large part of her
leisure, and her hours of regular employment were presently lengthened
by the work of transcribing for her father.

Charles Burney was now rising to eminence in his profession. To be
Master of the King’s Band was the highest honour then within the reach
of a musician, and Burney had been promised this appointment, though the
promise was broken in favour of a candidate supported by the Duke of
York.[12] In the summer of 1769, the Duke of Grafton was to be installed
as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The poet Gray wrote the
Installation Ode. Burney proposed to set it to music, and to conduct the
performance at the ceremony, intending, at the same time, to take the
degree of Doctor of Music at Cambridge. The Chancellor Elect accepted
his offer as one which the composer’s rank well entitled him to make;
but it soon appeared that the ideas of the two men as to the relative
value of money and music were widely different. His Grace would consent
to allow for the expense of singers and orchestra only one-half the
amount which the conductor considered due to the occasion and his own
importance. Burney in disgust threw up his commission, and, without loss
of time, repaired to the sister University for his doctorate, which was
conferred on him in June, 1769; the exercise produced by him as his
qualification was so highly thought of that it was repeated three years
successively at choral meetings in Oxford, and was afterwards performed
at Hamburg under C. P. E. Bach.

Dr. Burney’s new title did not appear on his door-plate till a facetious
friend exhorted him to brazen it. But, retiring as he was, the
constitutional diffidence which his second daughter inherited was now
giving way in him before the consciousness of ability and attainments,
and the irresistible desire to establish a lasting reputation. In the
latter part of the same year, he ventured anonymously into print with
his first literary production. Ten years earlier, the return of Halley’s
Comet at the time predicted seems to have given him an interest in
astronomy, which he retained through life. There was again a comet
visible in 1769, and this drew from him an Essay on Comets, to which he
prefixed a translation from the pen of his first wife, Esther, of a
letter by Maupertuis.[13] But this pamphlet was only an experiment, and
being obviously the work of an amateur, attracted little notice. Having
once tried his ’prentice hand at authorship, he fixed his attention on
his proper subject, and devoted himself to his long-projected ‘History
of Music.’

He had for many years kept a commonplace book, in which he laid up
notes, extracts, abridgments, criticisms, as the matter presented
itself. So large was the collection thus accumulated that it seemed to
his family ‘as if he had merely to methodize his manuscripts, and
entrust them to a copyist, for completing his purpose.’ The copyist was
at hand in his daughter Frances, who became his principal secretary and
librarian. But, as the enterprise proceeded, the views of the historian
expanded. Much information that would now be readily supplied by public
journals or correspondence was then only to be obtained by personal
investigation on the spot. Early in 1770, Dr. Burney had determined that
it would be needful for him to undertake a musical tour through France
and Italy. He started on this expedition in June of that year, and did
not return until the following January. His absence gave Fanny a
considerable increase of leisure and opportunity for indulging her own
literary dreams and occupations. Her stepmother, as well as her father,
seems to have left her at liberty, for during part of this interval, at
least, the attention of Mrs. Burney was engaged in providing a better
habitation for her husband.

The house in Poland Street had been found too small to accommodate the
combined families. In addition to the children of their former
marriages, there had been born to the parents a son, who was baptized
Richard Thomas, and a daughter to whom they gave the name of Sarah
Harriet. Mrs. Burney now found, and having found, proceeded to purchase
and furnish, a large house in the upper part of Queen Square,
Bloomsbury, which then enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the Hampstead
and Highgate Hills. The new abode had once belonged to Alderman Barber,
the friend of Dean Swift; and the Burneys pleased themselves with the
thought that there the great saturnine humourist had been wont sometimes
to set the table in a roar. The removal was effected while the Doctor
was still on the Continent. On his arrival in London, he was welcomed to
the new home by his wife and children, and by the never-failing Mr.
Crisp. We hear, however, but little of this house in Queen Square, and
even less of Fanny’s doings there. Her father had scarcely time to
become acquainted with it before he was off to Chesington, where he
occupied himself for several weeks in preparing the journal of his tour
for the press. All his daughters were pressed into the service of
copying and recopying his manuscript, but the chief share of this labour
fell upon the scribbling Fanny. The book, which was called ‘The Present
State of Music in France and Italy,’ appeared in the season of 1771.
Thenceforth his friend Crisp’s retreat became Burney’s constant resort
when he had literary work in hand. A further production of his pen,
dealing with a matter of musical technique, came forth before the close
of the same year. At the beginning of July, 1772, he set out on another
tour, with the same object of collecting materials for his history, his
route being now through Germany and the Netherlands. During this second
pilgrimage, his family spent their time partly at Lynn, partly at
Chesington; and Fanny, as we are told,—apparently on the authority of
her unpublished Diaries—profiting by the opportunities which these
visits afforded, then “gradually arranged and connected the disjointed
scraps and fragments in which ‘Evelina’ had been originally written.”
But, careful to avoid offence, “she never indulged herself with reading
or writing except in the afternoon; always scrupulously devoting her
time to needlework till after dinner.”

The traveller’s absence lasted five months: he reached Calais on his
return in a December so boisterous that for nine days no vessel could
cross the Channel; and Fanny relates that, when at length the passage
was effected, he was too much exhausted by sea-sickness to quit his
berth, and, falling asleep, was carried back to France to encounter
another stormy voyage, and a repetition of his sea-sickness, before he
finally landed at Dover. The fatigues and hardships of his homeward
journey brought on a severe attack of rheumatism, to which he was
subject. Fanny and her sisters nursed him, sitting by his bedside, pen
in hand, to set down the narrative of his German tour as his sufferings
allowed of his dictating it. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered,
he went down to Chesington not forgetting to carry his secretaries with

During this illness, or a relapse which followed it, the house in Queen
Square had to be relinquished from difficulties respecting the title;
and Mrs. Burney purchased and fitted up another in a central situation,
which was at once more convenient for her husband’s teaching
engagements, and more agreeable to him as being nearer to the opera, the
theatres, and the clubs. St. Martin’s Street, Leicester Fields, to which
the family removed, is now among the most dingy, not to say the most
squalid, of London streets; even in 1773, ‘its unpleasant site, its
confined air, and its shabby immediate neighbourhood,’ are spoken of as
drawbacks requiring compensation on an exchange from the fair and open
view of the northern heights, crowned with Caen Woods, which had faced
the windows in Bloomsbury. But, apart from the practical advantages
before mentioned, the new home was invested with a strong attraction for
the incomers in having been once inhabited by a personage whom our
astronomical Doctor revered, and taught his children to revere, as ‘the
pride of human nature.’ The belief that the house in Queen Square had
occasionally been visited by Dean Swift was nothing compared with the
certain knowledge that No. 1, St. Martin’s Street, had been the dwelling
of Sir Isaac Newton.[14] The topmost story was surmounted by an
‘observatory,’ having a leaden roof, and sides composed entirely of
small panes of glass, except such parts as were taken up by a cupboard,
fireplace and chimney. This structure being much dilapidated when Dr.
Burney entered into possession, his first act was to put what he looked
on as a special relic of his great predecessor into complete repair. The
house itself was sufficiently large for the new tenant’s family, as well
as for his books, ‘which now began to demand nearly equal
accommodation.’ Having recovered his health, and set his affairs in
order, the Doctor next resumed his daily round of lessons, and applied
himself to remedy any injury which his professional connection had
sustained from his two prolonged absences on the Continent. His pen was
laid aside for a time, but the German Tour was published before the end
of this year, and proved very successful. About the same time, its
author was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. The first volume of
his ‘History of Music’—in which work the main part of both his Tours was
incorporated—did not appear till 1776. We are now arrived at the time
when our heroine has attained majority. Her womanhood may be said to
have commenced with the removal to St. Martin’s Street. In our next
chapter we shall see how the first portion of it was spent.


Footnote 1:

  Owen and Blakeway’s ‘History of Shrewsbury,’ vol. ii., p. 388.

Footnote 2:

  Actress and singer; married Theophilus Cibber, son of Colley Cibber.
  She was a special favorite with Handel, who wrote much of his
  contralto music for her. In the latter part of her career she was
  associated with Garrick at Drury Lane. Born, 1714; died, 1766.

Footnote 3:

  This lady wrote verses, and acquired some repute by a poem entitled ‘A
  Prayer for Indifference.’

Footnote 4:

  ‘Memoirs of Dr. Burney, by his Daughter, Madame d’Arblay,’ 1832.

Footnote 5:

  Author of a didactic poem, ‘The Art of Preserving Health.’

Footnote 6:

  Born at Lynn, December 4, 1756; LL.D. Aberdeen, 1792; vicar of
  Deptford, prebendary of Lincoln, chaplain to the King; died 1817.

Footnote 7:

  The writer seems to have had in view the lines of Pope:

           ‘That live-long wig, which Gorgon’s self might own,
           Eternal buckle takes in Parian stone.’

  By the buckle of a wig was meant its stiff curl when in trim

Footnote 8:

  Walpole to Bentley, March 6, 1754.

Footnote 9:

  Thorne’s ‘Environs of London.’ The name is now written Chessington,
  but we retain the spelling which was always used by Fanny Burney and
  her friends.

Footnote 10:

  ‘Memoirs of Dr. Burney,’ vol. ii., p. 185.

Footnote 11:

  Preface to the ‘Wanderer.’

Footnote 12:

  Edward, brother of King George III.

Footnote 13:

  The title-page runs: ‘An Essay towards the history of the principal
  Comets that have appeared since 1742; with remarks and reflections
  upon the present Comet; to which is prefixed a Letter,’ etc. London,
  1769. It is a curious instance of Madame d’Arblay’s inaccuracy in the
  matter of dates, that she writes in detail of this little tract, the
  title of which she misquotes, as having been produced when ‘the comet
  of the immortal Halley’ was being awaited. (‘Memoirs of Dr. Burney,’
  vol. i., pp. 214-217.) But it was in 1759, not 1769, that Halley’s
  Comet returned. For notices of the comet of 1769, see the _Gentleman’s
  Magazine_ of that year.

Footnote 14:

  The house is now No. 35. It was occupied by Newton from the time when
  he became President of the Royal Society down to his death in 1727. He
  did not actually die there, as has been sometimes stated, but at
  Orbell’s Buildings, Kensington, whither he used to resort for change
  of air. See _Notes and Queries_, Third Series, i. 29. For the number
  of the house during Dr. Burney’s occupation, see a letter from him to
  Fanny in her Diary, New Edition, vol. i., 297.


                              CHAPTER II.

Life in St. Martin’s Street—Increase of Fame and Friends—Garrick’s First
  Call—Confusion—The Hairdresser—‘Tag-rag and Bobtail’—The History of
  Histories—Imitation of Dr. Johnson—The Great Roscius—Mr. Crisp’s Gout—
  Correspondence between him and Fanny—Dr. Burney’s Concerts—Abyssinian
  Bruce—Supper in St. Martin’s Street—Italian Singers—A Musical Evening—
  Visit of Count Orloff—His Stature and Jewels—Condescension—A
  Matrimonial Duet—The Empress’s Miniature—Jemmy Twitcher—Present State
  of St. Martin’s Street—Mr. and Mrs. Thrale—Dr. Johnson—Visit of the
  Thrales and Johnson—Appearance of Dr. Johnson—His Conversation—His
  Contempt for Music—Meeting of Dr. Johnson and Mr. Greville—Mrs. Thrale
  Defiant—Signor Piozzi.

Frances Burney’s Memoirs of her father, her letters to Daddy Crisp, and
her Diary, together, give us a pretty distinct idea of her life in the
little street south of Leicester Square. From the time when Dr. Burney
became established in that quarter, the circle of his friends and his
reputation steadily widened. In no long time he made acquaintance with
his neighbours, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Miss Reynolds, and their nieces,
the Misses Palmer; with another neighbour, the sculptor Nollekens; with
the painter Barry, Harris of Salisbury,[15] Mrs. Ord, Sir Joseph Banks,
and Abyssinian Bruce, then just returned from his travels. All these and
others were, from time to time, to be found in the Doctor’s modest
drawing-room, together with many old friends, such as the Stranges,
Garrick, Colman, Mason, the Hooles, father and son, Twining, and

We have, in the ‘Memoirs,’ an account of David Garrick’s first call at
the house in St. Martin’s Street, which, though written in the author’s
later style, was no doubt derived from contemporary notes or journals:—
It was early morning, and the doorsteps were being washed by a new
housemaid, who, not recognising the actor, demurred to his entering
unannounced. He brushed past her, ran upstairs, and burst into the
Doctor’s study. Here he found the master of the house under the hands of
his hairdresser; while Susanna was reading a newspaper to him, Charlotte
making his tea, and Fanny arranging his books. There was a litter of
papers everywhere. Burney would have cleared a chair, but the visitor
plumped down into one that was well cushioned with pamphlets, crying:
‘Ay, do now, Doctor, be in a little confusion! Whisk your matters all
out of their places, and don’t know where to find a thing that you want
for the rest of the day, and that will make us all comfortable.’ The
Doctor then, laughing, returned to his place on the stool, that his wig—
or, as Madame d’Arblay calls it, the furniture of his head—might go
through its proper repairs. David, assuming a solemn air of profound
attention, fastened his eyes upon the hairdresser, as if wonderstruck at
his amazing skill. The man, highly gratified by such notice from the
celebrated Garrick, briskly worked on, frizzing, curling, powdering, and
pasting, after the mode of the day, with the utmost importance and
self-complacency. Garrick himself had on what he called his scratch wig,
which was so uncommonly ill-arranged and frightful that the whole family
agreed no one else could have appeared in such a state in the public
streets without risk of being hooted at. He dropped now all talk with
the Doctor, not even answering what he said, and seemed wholly absorbed
in watching what was going on; putting on, by degrees, with a power like
transformation, a little mean face of envy and sadness, such as he wore
in representing Abel Drugger, till at length, in the eyes of the
spectators, he passed out of himself altogether, and, with his mouth
hanging stupidly open, and his features vacant of all expression, he
became the likeness of some daubed wooden block in a barber’s shop
window. The friseur, who at the beginning had felt flattered on seeing
his operations so curiously observed, was put out of countenance by this
incomprehensible change, became presently so embarrassed that he hardly
knew what he was about, and at last fell into utter consternation.
Scared and confounded, he hastily rolled up the last two curls, and
prepared to make his retreat; but before he could escape, Garrick,
lifting his own miserable scratch from his head, and holding it out on
his finger and thumb, squeaked out in a whining voice, ‘Pray now, sir,
do you think, sir, you could touch me up this here old bob a little bit,

The hairdresser dismissed, the actor, who could not help acting,
proceeded to give further proofs of his versatility. ‘And so, Doctor,’
he began, ‘you, with your tag-rag and bobtail there——’ Here he pointed
to some shelves of shabby books and tracts, which he started up to
examine; the next moment, becoming an auctioneer, he offered for sale
these valuable works, each worth a hundred pounds, and proclaimed that
they were ‘going, going, going, at a penny apiece.’ Then, quietly
reseating himself: ‘And so, Doctor,’ he continued, ‘you, and tag-rag and
bobtail there, shut yourselves up in this snug little bookstall, with
all your bright elves around you, to rest your understanding!’ There
were loud cries of mock indignation from the young people at the idea of
papa resting his understanding. Garrick apologized in his best stage
manner, and after some further talk, inquired, ‘But when, Doctor, shall
we have out the History of Histories? Do let me know in time, that I may
prepare to blow the trumpet of fame.’ Of course, this was a prelude to
his appearing in the character of a cheap-jack, advertising ‘the only
true History.’ Invited to the parlour to breakfast, he excused himself
on the plea of being engaged at home to Twiss[16] and Boswell, whom
immediately he took off to the life. Encouraged by the laughter of his
audience, this most reprehensible person, who set no bounds to his
levity, proceeded to offer an imitation of Dr. Johnson himself. He
sincerely honoured and loved Dr. Johnson, he said, but that great man
had eccentricities which his most attached admirers were irresistibly
impelled to mimic. Arranging, therefore, his dress so as to enlarge his
person, in some strange way, several inches beyond its natural size,
assuming the voice and authoritative port of the lexicographer, and
giving a thundering stamp on the carpet, the devout worshipper of Dr.
Johnson delivered, with sundry extraordinary attitudes and gestures, a
short dialogue that had passed between them during the preceding week:

“David! Will you lend me your ‘Petrarca’?”

“Y—e—s, sir!”

“David, you sigh?”

“Sir, you shall have it, certainly.”

“Accordingly,” Garrick continued, “the book—stupendously bound—I sent to
him that very evening. But scarcely had he taken the noble quarto in his
hands, when, as Boswell tells me, he poured forth a Greek ejaculation,
and a couplet or two from Horace; and then, in one of those fits of
enthusiasm which always seem to require that he should spread his arms
aloft in the air, his haste was so great to debarrass them for that
purpose, that he suddenly pounces my poor ‘Petrarca’ over his head upon
the floor—Russia leather, gold border, and all! And then, standing for
several minutes erect, lost in abstraction, he forgot, probably, that he
had ever seen it, and left my poor dislocated Beauty to the mercy of the
housemaid’s morning mop!”

This concluded the performance, and the performer presently took his
leave. After he had said good-bye, and left the room, he hastily came
back, whimsically laughing, and said: ‘Here’s one of your maids
downstairs that I love prodigiously to talk to, because she is so cross!
She was washing, and rubbing, and scrubbing, and whitening and
brightening your steps this morning, and would hardly let me pass. Egad,
sir, she did not know the great Roscius! But I frightened her a little
just now: “Child,” says I, “you don’t guess whom you have the happiness
to see! Do you know that I am one of the first geniuses of the age? You
would faint away upon the spot if you could only imagine who I am!”’

One familiar face was no longer seen at Burney’s house. Mr. Crisp had
become subject to such frequent fits of gout that his visits to London
were almost given up, and he rarely slept even a single night away from
Chesington. But his interest in musical and literary news, and in all
that concerned the Burney family, continued unabated. What he could no
more take part in himself was duly communicated to him by letter.

How early the correspondence between Frances and the family friend began
we are not informed. But it must have commenced long before she was old
enough to be admitted to parties such as she had now to describe to her
‘daddy.’ In a passage written at seventy-two, she has set down “a charge
delivered to me by our dear vehement Mr. Crisp at the opening of my
juvenile correspondence with him: ‘Harkee, you little monkey! dash away
whatever comes uppermost; if you stop to consider either what you say,
or what may be said of you, I would not give one fig for your letters.’”
So rough a speech could not have been addressed, even by a professed
cynic, to any young lady very far advanced in her teens. In the letters
from which we are about to quote, Miss Fanny prattles to the old man
with perfect ease and confidence, showing that she felt herself on terms
of established familiarity, and was quite free from the shyness and
embarrassment that would attend a timid girl’s first efforts to
entertain him.

For many years Dr. Burney had given informal evening concerts at his
house. These entertainments, to which he had been prompted by Crisp,
began in Poland Street, were continued in Queen Square, and attained
their highest distinction in St. Martin’s Street. There was no band, no
hired singer, no programme, no admission by ticket. A word from the
courteous host was the only invitation needed or expected. But the
company, as well as the music, was attractive even to guests accustomed
to fashionable society. Before his writings made him famous, Burney’s
extensive acquaintance brought him visitors whom the curious were
anxious to meet. Some came to see Sir Constantine Phipps, afterwards
Lord Mulgrave, on his return from his Arctic voyage. Others came for a
view of Omai, whom Captain Cook had imported from the South Seas. On one
occasion the gentle savage obliged the musical audience with a Tahitian
love-song, which proved to be a mere confused rumbling of uncouth
sounds. Whatever the incident of the evening, Crisp looked for a full
report of it from ‘his Fannikin.’

The sense of humour which we may still see brimming over in her portrait
was greatly provoked by Bruce, the particular lion of that day. The
explorer was reported to have brought home with him drawings of a Theban
harp at least three thousand years old, and of an Abyssinian lyre in
present use, about which Fanny was evidently more sceptical than her
father, who was always ready to welcome materials for his ‘History.’
‘The Abyssinians have lyres, have they?’ said George Selwyn; ‘well, they
have one less since _he_ left their country.’ Bruce was a personage of
stupendous height and breadth, whose pompous manners were proportioned
to his size and fame. ‘He is the tallest man you ever saw in your life—
at least _gratis_,’ wrote the observer. Nevertheless ‘the man-mountain’
condescended to the Burneys. In the season of his greatest glory, he
figured several times at the Doctor’s concerts, of which visits faithful
accounts were duly despatched to Chesington. On one of these evenings
Mr. Bruce even consented to stay supper, “which, you know,” says Fanny,
“with us is nothing but a permission to sit over a table for chat, and
roast potatoes or apples. But now,” she continues, “to perfect your
acquaintance with this towering Ethiopian, where do you think he will
take you during supper? To the source, or sources, you cry, of the Nile?
to Thebes? to its temple? to an arietta on the Theban harp? or perhaps
to banqueting on hot raw beef in Abyssinia? No such thing, my dear Mr.
Crisp—no such thing. Travellers who mean to write their travels are fit
for nothing but to represent the gap at your whist-table at Chesington,
when you have only three players; for they are dummies. Mr. Bruce left
all his exploits, his wanderings, his vanishings, his reappearances, his
harps so celestial, and his bullocks so terrestrial, to plant all our
entertainment within a hundred yards of our own coterie; namely, at the
masquerades at the Haymarket.” Then follows a story of a practical jest
not worth copying. “To have looked at Mr. Bruce in his glee at this
buffoonery, you must really have been amused; though methinks I see,
supposing you had been with us, the picturesque rising of your brow, and
all the dignity of your Roman nose, while you would have stared at such
familiar delight in an active joke as to transport into so merry an
_espiègle_ the seven-footed loftiness of the haughty and impetuous
tourist from the sands of Ethiopia, and the waters of Abyssinia; whom,
nevertheless, I have now the honour to portray in his _robe de chambre_,
that is, in private society, to my dear Chesington daddy.”

But far greater things were to follow this stalking of the African lion.
The Continental reputation which Dr. Burney acquired by his tours, and
which was extended by the first instalment of his ‘History,’ ‘attracted
to his house,’ as Macaulay points out, ‘the most eminent musical
performers of that age. The greatest Italian singers who visited England
regarded him as the dispenser of fame in their art, and exerted
themselves to obtain his suffrage. Pacchierotti[17] became his intimate
friend. The rapacious Agujari,[18] who sang for nobody else under fifty
pounds an air, sang her best for Dr. Burney without a fee; and in the
company of Dr. Burney even the haughty and eccentric Gabrielli[19]
constrained herself to behave with civility. It was thus in his power to
give, with scarcely any expense, concerts equal to those of the
aristocracy. On such occasions the quiet street in which he lived was
blocked up by coroneted chariots, and his little drawing-room was
crowded with peers, peeresses, ministers, and ambassadors.’

The following extract from one of Fanny’s letters contains a full
description of the most memorable of these musical evenings, though it
was one on which no foreign artist performed:

  “You reproach me, my dear Mr. Crisp, for not sending you an account of
  our last two concerts. But the fact is, I have not anything new to
  tell you. The music has always been the same: the matrimonial
  duets[20] are so much _à la mode_, that no other thing in our house is
  now demanded. But if I can write you nothing new about music, you
  want, I well know you will say, to hear some conversations.

  My dear Mr. Crisp, there is, at this moment, no such thing as
  conversation. There is only one question asked, meet whom you may,
  namely: ‘How do you like Gabrielli?’ and only two modes,
  contradictory, to be sure, but very steady, of reply: either, ‘Of all
  things upon earth!’ or, ‘Not the least bit in the whole world!’

  Well, now I will present you with a specimen, beginning with our last
  concert but one, and arranging the persons of the drama in the order
  of their actual appearance.

  But, imprimis, I should tell you that the motive to this concert was a
  particular request to my father from Dr. King, our old friend, and the
  chaplain to the British—something—at St. Petersburg, that he would
  give a little music to a certain mighty personage, who, somehow or
  other how, must needs take, transiently at least, a front place in
  future history, namely, the famed favourite of the Empress Catherine
  of Russia—Prince[21] Orloff.

  There, my dear Mr. Crisp! what say you to seeing such a doughty
  personage as that in a private house, at a private party, of a private
  individual—fresh imported from the Czarina of all the Russias, to sip
  a cup of tea in St. Martin’s Street? I wonder whether future
  historians will happen to mention this circumstance? I am thinking of
  sending it to all the keepers of records. But I see your rising
  eyebrows at this name—your start—your disgust—yet big curiosity.

  Well, suppose the family assembled, its honoured chief in the midst—
  and Tat, tat, tat, tat, at the door.

                  _Enter Dr. Ogle, Dean of Winchester._

  _Dr. Burney_, after the usual ceremonies:—‘Did you hear the Gabrielli
  last night, Mr. Dean?’

  _The Dean_: ‘No, Doctor, I made the attempt, but soon retreated, for I
  hate a crowd—as much as the ladies love it! I beg pardon!’ bowing with
  a sort of civil sneer at us fair sex.

  My mother was entering upon a spirited defence, when—Tat, tat, tat.

                            _Enter Dr. King._

  He brought the compliments of Prince Orloff, with his Highness’s
  apologies for being so late; but he was obliged to dine at Lord
  Buckingham’s, and thence to show himself at Lady Harrington’s.

  As nobody thought of inquiring into Dr. King’s opinion of La
  Gabrielli, conversation was at a stand, till—Tat, tat, tat, tat, too,

                          _Enter Lady Edgcumbe._

  We were all introduced to her, and she was very chatty, courteous, and
  entertaining. [Lady Edgcumbe is asked the usual question about
  Gabrielli, as also are the Honourable Mr. and Mrs. Brudenel, who
  appear next. Then we are introduced in succession to the Baron
  Demidoff, Harris of Salisbury, and Lord Bruce.] At length—Tat, tat,
  tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, too!

                   _Enter his Highness Prince Orloff._

  Have you heard the dreadful story of the thumb, by which this terrible
  Prince is said to have throttled the late Emperor of Russia, Peter, by
  suddenly pressing his windpipe while he was drinking? I hope it is not
  true; and Dr. King, of whom, while he resided in Russia, Prince Orloff
  was the patron, denies the charge. Nevertheless, it is so currently
  reported, that neither Susan nor I could keep it one moment from our
  thoughts; and we both shrank from him with secret horror, heartily
  wishing him in his own Black Sea.

  His sight, however, produced a strong sensation, both in those who
  believed, and those who discredited this disgusting barbarity; for
  another story, not perhaps of less real, though of less sanguinary
  guilt, is not a tale of rumour, but a crime of certainty; namely, that
  he is the first favourite of the cruel, inhuman Empress—if it be true
  that she connived at this horrible murder.

  His Highness was immediately preceded by another Russian nobleman,
  whose name I have forgot; and followed by a noble Hessian, General

  Prince Orloff is of stupendous stature, something resembling Mr.
  Bruce. He is handsome, tall, fat, upright, magnificent. His dress was
  superb. Besides the blue garter, he had a star of diamonds of
  prodigious brilliancy, a shoulder-knot of the same lustre and value,
  and a picture of the Empress hung about his neck, set round with
  diamonds of such brightness and magnitude that, when near the light,
  they were too dazzling for the eye. His jewels, Dr. King says, are
  estimated at one hundred thousand pounds sterling.

  His air and address are showy, striking, and assiduously courteous. He
  had a look that frequently seemed to say, ‘I hope you observe that I
  come from a polished Court? I hope you take note that I am no
  Cossack?’ Yet, with all this display of commanding affability, he
  seems, from his native taste and humour, ‘agreeably addicted to
  pleasantry,’ He speaks very little English, but knows French

  His introduction to my father, in which Dr. King pompously figured,
  passed in the drawing-room. The library was so crowded that he could
  only show himself at the door, which was barely high enough not to
  discompose his prodigious toupee. He bowed to Mr. Chamier,[22] then my
  next neighbour, whom he had somewhere met; but I was so impressed by
  the shocking rumours of his horrible actions, that involuntarily I
  drew back even from a bow of vicinity; murmuring to Mr. Chamier, ‘He
  looks so potent and mighty, I do not like to be near him!’

  ‘He has been less unfortunate,’ answered Mr. Chamier archly,
  ‘elsewhere; such objection has not been made to him by all ladies.’

  Lord Bruce, who knew, immediately rose to make way for him, and moved
  to another end of the room. The Prince instantly held out his vast
  hand, in which, if he had also held a cambric handkerchief, it must
  have looked like a white flag on the top of a mast—so much higher than
  the most tip-top height of every head in the room was his spread-out
  arm, as he exclaimed, ‘_Ah! milord me fuit!_’

  His Honour,[23] then, rising also, with a profound reverence, offered
  his seat to his Highness; but he positively refused to accept it, and
  declared that if Mr. Brudenel would not be seated, he would himself
  retire; and seeing Mr. Brudenel demur, still begging his Highness to
  take the chair, he cried, with a laugh, but very peremptorily, ‘_Non,
  non, monsieur! Je ne le veux pas! Je suis opiniâtre, moi; un peu comme
  Messieurs les Anglais!_’

  Mr. Brudenel then reseated himself; and the corner of a form appearing
  to be vacant, from the pains taken by poor Susan to shrink away from
  Mr. Orloff, his Highness suddenly dropped down upon it his immense
  weight, with a force—notwithstanding a palpable and studied endeavour
  to avoid doing mischief—that threatened his gigantic person with
  plumping upon the floor, and terrified all on the opposite side of the
  form with the danger of visiting the ceiling.

  Perceiving Susan strive, though vainly, from want of space, to glide
  further off from him, and struck, perhaps, by her sweet countenance,
  ‘_Ah, ha!_’ he cried, ‘_je tiens ici, je vois, une petite

  Charlotte, blooming like a budding little Hebe, actually stole into a
  corner from affright at the whispered history of his thumb ferocity.

  Mr. Chamier, who now probably had developed what passed in my mind,
  contrived, very comically, to disclose his similar sentiment; for,
  making a quiet way to my ear, he said in a low voice, ‘I wish Dr.
  Burney had invited Omiah here tonight instead of Prince Orloff!’—
  meaning, no doubt, of the two exotics, he should have preferred the
  most innocent!

  The grand duet of Müthel was now called for, and played; but I can
  tell you nothing extra of the admiration it excited. Your Hettina
  looked remarkably pretty; and, added to the applause given to the
  music, everybody had something to observe upon the singularity of the
  performers being husband and wife. Prince Orloff was witty quite to
  facetiousness; sarcastically marking something beyond what he said, by
  a certain ogling, half-cynical, half-amorous cast of his eyes; and
  declaring he should take care to initiate all the foreign academies of
  natural philosophy in the secret of the harmony that might be produced
  by such nuptial concord.

  The Russian nobleman who accompanied Prince Orloff, and who knew
  English, they told us, so well that he was the best interpreter for
  his Highness in his visits, gave us now a specimen of his proficiency;
  for, clapping his fore-finger upon a superfine snuff-box, he
  exclaimed, when the duet was finished, ‘Ma foi, dis is so pretty as
  never I hear in my life!’

  General Bawr also, to whom Mr. Harris directed my attention, was
  greatly charmed. He is tall, and of stern and martial aspect. ‘He is a
  man,’ said Mr. Harris, ‘to be looked at, from his courage, conduct,
  and success during the last Russian war; when, though a Hessian by
  birth, he was a lieutenant-general in the service of the Empress of
  Russia, and obtained the two military stars, which you now see him
  wear on each side, by his valour!’...

  Then followed, to vary the entertainment, singing by Mrs. Brudenel.

  Prince Orloff inquired very particularly of Dr. King who we four young
  female Burneys were; for we were all dressed alike, on account of our
  mourning; and when Dr. King answered, ‘Dr. Burney’s daughters,’ he was
  quite astonished, for he had not thought our dear father, he said,
  more than thirty years of age, if so much.

  Mr. Harris, in a whisper, told me he wished some of the ladies would
  desire to see the miniature of the Empress a little nearer; the
  monstrous height of the Prince putting it quite out of view to his old
  eyes and short figure; and being a man, he could not, he said, presume
  to ask such an indulgence as that of holding it in his own hands.
  Delighted to do anything for this excellent Mr. Harris, and quite at
  my ease with poor prosing Dr. King, I told him the wish of Mr. Harris.
  Dr. King whispered the desire to M. de Demidoff; M. de Demidoff did
  the same to General de Bawr; and General de Bawr dauntlessly made the
  petition to the Prince, in the name of _The Ladies_.

  The Prince laughed, rather sardonically; yet with ready good humour
  complied, telling the General, pretty much _sans ceremonie_, to untie
  the ribbon round his neck, and give the picture into the possession of
  _The Ladies_.

  He was very gallant and debonnaire upon the occasion, entreating they
  would by no means hurry themselves; yet his smile, as his eye sharply
  followed the progress from hand to hand of the miniature, had a
  suspicious cast of investigating whether it would be worth his while
  to ask any favour of them in return! and through all the superb
  magnificence of his display of courtly manners, a little bit of the
  Cossack, methought, broke out, when he desired to know whether _The
  Ladies_ wished for anything else—declaring, with a smiling bow, and
  rolling, languishing, yet half-contemptuous eyes, that, if _The
  Ladies_ would issue their commands, they should strip him entirely!

  You may suppose, after that, nobody asked for a closer view of any
  more of his ornaments! The good, yet unaffectedly humorous philosopher
  of Salisbury could not help laughing, even while actually blushing at
  it, that his own curiosity should have involved _The Ladies_ in this
  supercilious sort of sarcastic homage.

  There was hardly any looking at the picture of the Empress for the
  glare of the diamonds. One of them, I really believe, was as big as a
  nutmeg; though I am somewhat ashamed to undignify my subject by so
  culinary a comparison.

  When we were all satisfied, the miniature was restored by General Bawr
  to the Prince, who took it with stately complacency; condescendingly
  making a smiling bow to each fair female who had had possession of it,
  and receiving from her in return a lowly courtesy.

  Mr. Harris, who was the most curious to see the Empress, because his
  son, Sir James,[24] was, or is intended to be, Minister at her Court,
  had slyly looked over every shoulder that held her; but would not
  venture, he archly whispered, to take the picture in his own hands,
  lest he should be included by the Prince amongst _The Ladies_, as an
  old woman!

  Have you had enough of this concert, my dear Mr. Crisp? I have given
  it in detail, for the humour of letting you see how absorbing of the
  public voice is La Gabrielli; and also for describing to you Prince
  Orloff, a man who, when time lets out facts, and drives in mysteries,
  must necessarily make a considerable figure, good or bad—but certainly
  not indifferent—in European history. Besides, I want your opinion
  whether there is not an odd and striking resemblance in general
  manners, as well as in herculean strength and height, in this Siberian
  Prince and his Abyssinian Majesty?”

On another musical evening, of which Fanny wrote an account, there were
present: the French Ambassador, the Count de Guignes, at whose request
the concert was given; the Danish Ambassador, Baron Deiden, and his
wife; the Groom of the Stole, Lord Ashburnham, ‘with his gold key
dangling from his pocket;’ Lord Barrington from the War Office, and Lord
Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty. Of this last, the boon-companion
and denouncer[25] of Wilkes, Miss Fanny naïvely asks, “I want to know
why he is called Jemmy Twitcher in the newspapers? Do pray tell me

Very seldom, in these latter days, does any private carriage, with or
without a coronet on its panels, turn into the decayed thoroughfare
running down from the bottom of Leicester Square. ‘Vulgarly-peopled,’
according to Madame d’Arblay, even in her father’s time, St. Martin’s
Street has since fallen many degrees lower yet. The house to which the
fashionable world was drawn by the charms of Burney’s music stands on
the east side, immediately above the chapel at the corner of Orange
Street. The glass observatory which Dr. Burney repaired, and which he
subsequently rebuilt when it was blown away by a gale of wind, has long
since disappeared. It was replaced by a wooden[26] erection, or what
Macaulay calls ‘a square turret,’ which, when the essayist wrote,
distinguished the house from all the surrounding buildings. This
erection also has been removed, but the house itself cannot be mistaken
by any passer-by who cares to see it. A tablet on the front bears the
inscription: ‘Sir Isaac Newton, philosopher, lived here.’ The house is
at present the quarters of the United Service Warrant Officers’ Club. No
great effort is required to imagine the plain, silent Newton passing in
and out of that slender doorway. The movements of the man _qui genus
humanum ingenio superavit_ were without noise and ostentation. We may
let half a century go by in thought, and with equal ease picture to
ourselves David Garrick tripping up the steps before breakfast; Samuel
Johnson rolling up them for a call, on his way to dine with Mrs.
Montagu; pleasant Dr. Burney briskly setting out on his daily round of
lessons; and demure Miss Fanny sallying forth to seek an interview
_incognita_ with her publisher. But how call up the scene, when the
lacqueys of Count Orloff—Orloff the Big, Walpole calls him—thundered at
the knocker, or when officers of the Household, displaying the ensigns
of their rank, peers with stars and orders, and great ladies arrayed in
brocaded silks and immense head-dresses, followed one another up a
confined staircase[27] into a couple of small and crowded
reception-rooms? Standing opposite to the club where our gallant petty
officers of to-day congregate, and noticing that to the left of it, on
the other side of Long’s Court, there is now a cheap lodging-house for
working men, and that a little further to the left, at the entrance from
the Square, the roadway narrows, as we learn from the “Memoirs” that it
did in Burney’s time, till there is barely room for a single vehicle of
moderate size to pass, we recognise the limitations of the human fancy.
It is difficult to conceive of a great aristocratic crowd assembling in
such a place. We can understand the pride with which Fanny set down the
prolonged _rat-tat-tat-tat-too_ that announced the arrival of each
titled and decorated visitor. We may observe the pains she took to draw
and colour for her country correspondent groups of dazzling figures such
as had never been seen in the more spacious area of Queen Square. But
they are gone, and in presence of the dirt and squalor which have made
St. Martin’s Street little better than an East-End slum, their shadows
will not revisit the glimpses of the moon. _Sic transit gloria mundi._

Somewhat later, Dr. Burney formed a new connection which had an
important influence on the life of his second daughter. He was invited
to Streatham by Mr. and Mrs. Thrale to give lessons in music to their
eldest daughter, familiarly called Queeny, who afterwards became
Viscountess Keith. There, besides winning the regard of the Thrales, he
renewed his acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, to whom he had made himself
known by letter twenty-two years before. Johnson, who had no ear,
despised music, and was wont to speak slightingly of its professors, but
he conceived a strong liking for Burney. In bringing out the ‘Tour to
the Hebrides,’ the author confessed that he had kept his friend’s
Musical Tours in view. At this time, Richard, the youngest son of Dr.
Burney, born of his second marriage, was preparing for Winchester
School, whither his father proposed conveying him in person. Johnson,
who was a friend of Dr. Warton, the headmaster, volunteered to accompany
them, and introduce the new pupil. This joint expedition of Johnson and
Burney was followed by a similar one to Oxford, and their intercourse
became so cordial that Mrs. Thrale and Johnson arranged to meet in St.
Martin’s Street, there to make acquaintance with Burney’s family, to
look over his library, and to see Newton’s house. Fanny, who had just
come up from Chesington, wrote an account of this visit to her daddy:


        My father seemed well pleased at my returning to my time; so
  that is no small consolation and pleasure to me for the pain of
  quitting you. So now to our Thursday morning and Dr. Johnson,
  according to my promise.

  We were all—by we, I mean Suzette, Charlotte, and I—for my mother had
  seen him before, as had my sister Burney; but we three were all in a
  twitter from violent expectation and curiosity for the sight of this
  monarch of books and authors.

  Mrs. and Miss Thrale, Miss Owen, and Mr. Seward,[28] came long before
  Lexiphanes. Mrs. Thrale is a pretty woman still, though she has some
  defect in the mouth that looks like a cut or scar; but her nose is
  very handsome, her complexion very fair; she has the _embonpoint
  charmant_, and her eyes are blue and lustrous. She is extremely lively
  and chatty, and showed none of the supercilious or pedantic airs so
  freely, or rather so scoffingly, attributed by you envious lords of
  the creation to women of learning or celebrity; on the contrary, she
  is full of sport, remarkably gay, and excessively agreeable. I liked
  her in everything except her entrance into the room, which was rather
  florid and flourishing, as who should say, ‘It’s I!—no less a person
  than Mrs. Thrale!’ However, all that ostentation wore out in the
  course of the visit, which lasted the whole morning; and you could not
  have helped liking her, she is so very entertaining—though not simple
  enough, I believe, for quite winning your heart....

  The conversation was supported with a great deal of vivacity, as usual
  when il Signor Padrone is at home; but I can write you none of it, as
  I was still in the same twitter, twitter, twitter, I have
  acknowledged, to see Dr. Johnson. Nothing could have heightened my
  impatience—unless Pope could have been brought to life again—or,
  perhaps, Shakespeare!

  This confab was broken up by a duet between your Hettina and, for the
  first time to company-listeners, Suzette; who, however, escaped much
  fright, for she soon found she had no musical critics to encounter in
  Mrs. Thrale and Mr. Seward, or Miss Owen, who know not a flat from a
  sharp, nor a crotchet from a quaver. But every knowledge is not given
  to everybody—except to two gentle wights of my acquaintance: the one
  commonly hight il Padre, and the other il Dadda. Do you know any such
  sort of people, sir? Well, in the midst of this performance, and
  before the second movement was come to a close, Dr. Johnson was

  Now, my dear Mr. Crisp, if you like a description of emotions and
  sensations—but I know you treat them all as burlesque; so let’s

  Everybody rose to do him honour, and he returned the attention with
  the most formal courtesy. My father then, having welcomed him with the
  warmest respect, whispered to him that music was going forward, which
  he would not, my father thinks, have found out; and, placing him on
  the best seat vacant, told his daughters to go on with the duet; while
  Dr. Johnson, intently rolling towards them one eye—for they say he
  does not see with the other—made a grave nod, and gave a dignified
  motion with one hand, in silent approvance of the proceeding.

  But now, my dear Mr. Crisp, I am mortified to own—what you, who always
  smile at my enthusiasm, will hear without caring a straw for—that he
  is, indeed, very ill-favoured. Yet he has naturally a noble figure;
  tall, stout, grand, and authoritative: but he stoops horribly; his
  back is quite round: his mouth is continually opening and shutting, as
  if he were chewing something; he has a singular method of twirling his
  fingers, and twisting his hands: his vast body is in constant
  agitation, see-sawing backwards and forwards: his feet are never a
  moment quiet; and his whole person looked often as if it were going to
  roll itself, quite voluntarily, from his chair to the floor.

  Since such is his appearance to a person so prejudiced in his favour
  as I am, how I must more than ever reverence his abilities, when I
  tell you that, upon asking my father why he had not prepared us for
  such uncouth, untoward strangeness, he laughed heartily, and said he
  had entirely forgotten that the same impression had been, at first,
  made upon himself, but had been lost even on the second interview—how
  I long to see him again, to lose it, too!—for knowing the value of
  what would come out when he spoke, he ceased to observe the defects
  that were out while he was silent.

  But you always charge me to write without reserve or reservation, and
  so I obey, as usual. Else, I should be ashamed to acknowledge having
  remarked such exterior blemishes in so exalted a character.

  His dress, considering the times, and that he had meant to put on all
  his best _becomes_—for he was engaged to dine with a very fine party
  at Mrs. Montagu’s—was as much out of the common road as his figure. He
  had a large, full, bushy wig, a snuff-colour coat, with gold buttons
  (or, peradventure, brass), but no ruffles to his doughty fists; and
  not, I suppose, to be taken for a Blue, though going to the Blue
  Queen, he had on very coarse black worsted stockings.

  He is shockingly near-sighted; a thousand times more so than either my
  Padre or myself. He did not even know Mrs. Thrale, till she held out
  her hand to him, which she did very engagingly. After the first few
  minutes, he drew his chair close to the pianoforte, and then bent down
  his nose quite over the keys, to examine them, and the four hands at
  work upon them; till poor Hetty and Susan hardly knew how to play on,
  for fear of touching his phiz; or, which was harder still, how to keep
  their countenances; and the less, as Mr. Seward, who seems to be very
  droll and shrewd, and was much diverted, ogled them slyly, with a
  provoking expression of arch enjoyment of their apprehensions.

  When the duet was finished, my father introduced your Hettina to him,
  as an old acquaintance, to whom, when she was a little girl, he had
  presented his Idler.

  His answer to this was imprinting on her pretty face—not a half touch
  of a courtly salute—but a good, real, substantial, and very loud kiss.

  Everybody was obliged to stroke their chins, that they might hide
  their mouths.

  Beyond this chaste embrace, his attention was not to be drawn off two
  minutes longer from the books, to which he now strided his way; for we
  had left the drawing-room for the library, on account of the
  pianoforte. He pored over them, shelf by shelf, almost brushing them
  with his eyelashes from near examination. At last, fixing upon
  something that happened to hit his fancy, he took it down; and,
  standing aloof from the company, which he seemed clean and clear to
  forget, he began, without further ceremony, and very composedly, to
  read to himself; and as intently as if he had been alone in his own

  We were all excessively provoked: for we were languishing, fretting,
  expiring to hear him talk—not to see him read! What could that do for

  My sister then played another duet, accompanied by my father, to which
  Miss Thrale seemed very attentive; and all the rest quietly resigned.
  But Dr. Johnson had opened a volume of the British Encyclopædia, and
  was so deeply engaged, that the music, probably, never reached his

  When it was over, Mrs. Thrale, in a laughing manner, said: ‘Pray, Dr.
  Burney, will you be so good as to tell me what that song was, and
  whose, which Savoi sang last night at Bach’s[29] concert, and which
  you did not hear?’

  My father confessed himself by no means so able a diviner, not having
  had time to consult the stars, though he lived in the house of Sir
  Isaac Newton. But, anxious to draw Dr. Johnson into conversation, he
  ventured to interrupt him with Mrs. Thrale’s conjuring request
  relative to Bach’s concert.

  The Doctor, comprehending his drift, good-naturedly put away his book,
  and, see-sawing, with a very humorous smile, drolly repeated: ‘Bach,
  sir?—Bach’s concert? And pray, sir, who is Bach? Is he a piper?’

  You may imagine what exclamations followed such a question.

  Mrs. Thrale gave a detailed account of the nature of the concert, and
  the fame of Mr. Bach, and the many charming performances she had
  heard, with all their varieties, in his rooms.

  When there was a pause, ‘Pray, madam,’ said he, with the calmest
  gravity, ‘what is the expense for all this?’

  ‘Oh,’ answered she, ‘the expense is much trouble and solicitation to
  obtain a subscriber’s ticket—or else, half a guinea!’

  ‘Trouble and solicitation,’ he replied, ‘I will have nothing to do
  with; but, if it be so fine, I would be willing to give’—he hesitated,
  and then finished with—‘eighteen-pence.’

  Ha! ha! Chocolate being then brought, we returned to the drawing-room;
  and Dr. Johnson, when drawn away from the books, freely, and with
  social good-humour, gave himself up to conversation.

  The intended dinner of Mrs. Montagu being mentioned, Dr. Johnson
  laughingly told us that he had received the most flattering note that
  he had ever read, or that anybody else had ever read, of invitation
  from that lady.

  ‘So have I, too!’ cried Mrs. Thrale. ‘So, if a note from Mrs. Montagu
  is to be boasted of, I beg mine may not be forgotten.’

  ‘Your note, madam,’ cried Dr. Johnson, smiling, ‘can bear no
  comparison with mine; for I am at the head of all the philosophers—she

  ‘And I,’ returned Mrs. Thrale, ‘have all the Muses in my train.’

  ‘A fair battle!’ cried my father. ‘Come, compliment for compliment,
  and see who will hold out longest!’

  ‘I am afraid for Mrs. Thrale,’ said Mr. Seward; ‘for I know that Mrs.
  Montagu exerts all her forces when she sings the praises of Dr.

  ‘Oh yes,’ cried Mrs. Thrale, ‘she has often praised him till he has
  been ready to faint.’

  ‘Well,’ said my father, ‘you two ladies must get him fairly between
  you to-day, and see which can lay on the paint the thickest—Mrs.
  Montagu or Mrs. Thrale.’

  ‘I had rather,’ said the Doctor very composedly, ‘go to Bach’s

Not long after the morning call described in our last extract, Johnson
spent an evening in St. Martin’s Street, for the purpose of being
introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Greville. The Doctor came with Mr. and Mrs.
Thrale. Signor Piozzi was there, invited to amuse the company by his
musical skill. But the account of the second visit reads much less
pleasantly than that of the first. This is due in great part to the
different behaviour of the principal guests. Burney’s old patron,
Greville, had for years been going steadily down hill, through
indulgence in play and other extravagances. The loss of his fortune,
perhaps, inclined him to assert more stiffly the claims of his rank. At
any rate, in presence of the Thrales and Johnson, he thought it
necessary to appear superior to the brewer’s wealth and the author’s
fame. Johnson seems to have only half perceived his disdain; but the
Doctor was not in a mood for talking, and Greville made no attempt to
draw him out. Nor are the actors only changed on this subsequent
occasion; the narrator is changed also. Instead of a letter by Fanny
Burney, dashed off in the hey-day of youth and spirits, we have a formal
account by her later self, Madame d’Arblay, composed in the peculiar
style which makes a great part of the ‘Memoirs’ such difficult reading.
However, as this account records Mrs. Thrale’s first meeting with the
man who was destined to exercise a fatal influence on her after-life, we
give a portion of it here:

  “Mrs. Thrale, of the whole coterie, was alone at her ease. She feared
  not Dr. Johnson; for fear made no part of her composition; and with
  Mrs. Greville, as a fair rival genius, she would have been glad, from
  curiosity, to have had the honour of a little tilt, in full
  carelessness of its event; for though triumphant when victorious, she
  had spirits so volatile, and such utter exemption from envy or spleen,
  that she was gaily free from mortification when vanquished. But she
  knew the meeting to have been fabricated for Dr. Johnson, and,
  therefore, though not without difficulty, constrained herself to be

  “When, however, she observed the sardonic disposition of Mr. Greville
  to stare around him at the whole company in curious silence, she felt
  a defiance against his aristocracy beat in every pulse; for, however
  grandly he might look back to the long ancestry of the Brookes and the
  Grevilles, she had a glowing consciousness that her own blood, rapid
  and fluent, flowed in her veins from Adam of Saltsburg;[30] and, at
  length, provoked by the dulness of a taciturnity that, in the midst of
  such renowned interlocutors, produced as narcotic a torpor as could
  have been caused by a dearth the most barren of human faculties, she
  grew tired of the music, and yet more tired of remaining, what as
  little suited her inclinations as her abilities, a mere cipher in the
  company; and, holding such a position, and all its concomitants, to be
  ridiculous, her spirits rose rebelliously above her control, and, in a
  fit of utter recklessness of what might be thought of her by her fine
  new acquaintance, she suddenly but softly arose, and stealing on
  tip-toe behind Signor Piozzi, who was accompanying himself on the
  pianoforte to an animated _aria parlante_, with his back to the
  company, and his face to the wall, she ludicrously began imitating him
  by squaring her elbows, elevating them with ecstatic shrugs of the
  shoulders, and casting up her eyes, while languishingly reclining her
  head, as if she were not less enthusiastically, though somewhat more
  suddenly, struck with the transports of harmony than himself.

  “This grotesque ebullition of ungovernable gaiety was not perceived by
  Dr. Johnson, who faced the fire, with his back to the performer and
  the instrument. But the amusement which such an unlooked-for
  exhibition caused to the party was momentary; for Dr. Burney, shocked
  lest the poor Signor should observe, and be hurt by this mimicry,
  glided gently round to Mrs. Thrale, and, with something between
  pleasantry and severity, whispered to her, ‘Because, madam, you have
  no ear yourself for music, will you destroy the attention of all who,
  in that one point, are otherwise gifted?’

  “It was now that shone the brightest attribute of Mrs. Thrale,
  sweetness of temper. She took this rebuke with a candour, and a sense
  of its justice the most amiable; she nodded her approbation of the
  admonition; and, returning to her chair, quietly sat down, as she
  afterwards said, like a pretty little miss, for the remainder of one
  of the most humdrum evenings that she had ever passed.

  “Strange, indeed, strange and most strange, the event considered, was
  this opening intercourse between Mrs. Thrale and Signor Piozzi. Little
  could she imagine that the person she was thus called away from
  holding up to ridicule, would become, but a few years afterwards, the
  idol of her fancy, and the lord of her destiny! And little did the
  company present imagine, that this burlesque scene was but the first
  of a drama the most extraordinary of real life, of which these two
  persons were to be the hero and heroine; though, when the catastrophe
  was known, this incident, witnessed by so many, was recollected and
  repeated from coterie to coterie throughout London, with comments and
  sarcasms of endless variety.”


Footnote 15:

  James Harris, author of ‘Hermes; or a Philosophical Inquiry into
  Universal Grammar,’ and several other works. Entering Parliament in
  1761, he became a Lord of the Admiralty, and subsequently a Lord of
  the Treasury, etc. He died in 1786.

Footnote 16:

  Author of ‘Travels in Spain.’

Footnote 17:

  ‘Nothing is fit to be heard but Pacchierotti,’ was the general
  verdict, according to Walpole.

Footnote 18:

  A celebrated Italian singer, wife of Colla, an Italian composer. She
  was engaged at the Pantheon to sing two songs nightly, for which she
  received £100.

Footnote 19:

  A performer of great Continental reputation, whose merits were much
  controverted in England. ‘Is, or has the Gabrielli been, a great
  singer?’ asks Walpole of his Florence correspondent. ‘She has, at
  least, not honoured us but with a most slender low voice.’

Footnote 20:

    Duets between Esther Burney, now married, and her husband, who was
    also her cousin and a Burney. Esther was the beauty of the family,
    and became a wife early.

Footnote 21:

    Fanny should rather have written, _Count_ Orloff.

Footnote 22:

    Anthony Chamier was member of Parliament for Tamworth, and
    Under-Secretary of State from 1775 till his death in 1780. He was an
    original member of the celebrated Literary Club.

Footnote 23:

    A name by which Mr. Brudenel, afterwards Earl of Cardigan, was

Footnote 24:

    Afterwards Lord Malmesbury.

Footnote 25:

  We need scarcely remind our readers that, in 1763, Sandwich had
  denounced Wilkes in the House of Lords for having composed and printed
  the ‘Essay on Woman,’ an indecent parody on Pope’s ‘Essay on Man.’
  Society resented the attack, placing the accuser and accused on a par
  in point of morals. ‘The public indignation went so far, that the
  _Beggar’s Opera_ being performed at Covent Garden Theatre soon after
  this event, the whole audience, when Macheath says, “That Jemmy
  Twitcher should peach, I own surprises me,” burst out into an applause
  of application, and the nickname of “Jemmy Twitcher” stuck by the Earl
  so as almost to occasion the disuse of his title.’—Walpole’s ‘Memoirs
  of George III.,’ vol. i., p. 313.

Footnote 26:

  The observatory in its later form is stated to have been put up in the
  early years of the present century, by a Frenchman, then tenant of the
  house, who placed in it some mathematical instruments, which he
  exhibited as the identical instruments with which the great Newton
  made his discoveries; and we are told that this ingenious person
  realized a considerable sum before his imposture was exposed. See ‘The
  Streets of London,’ by J. T. Smith, edited by Charles Mackay, 1849, p.

Footnote 27:

  There is some account both of the inside and outside of Newton’s house
  in the _Gentleman’s Magazine_ for 1814. At that date, we learn among
  other things, the original chimney-piece in the observatory remained,
  though the room itself had undergone a change. The house appears to
  have been built about 1692.

Footnote 28:

    William Seward, afterwards author of ‘Anecdotes of Distinguished
    Persons,’ and ‘Biographiana,’ a sequel to the same.

Footnote 29:

    John Christian Bach, sometimes called Bach of Berlin, who for many
    years was established in England.

Footnote 30:

    Hester Lynch Salusbury (Mrs. Thrale) claimed to be lineally
    descended from Adam of Saltsburg, who came over to England with the


                              CHAPTER III.

‘Evelina’—Date of its Composition—Negotiations with Publishers—Dr.
  Burney’s Consent—Publication—Illness of the Author—Visit to
  Chesington—Her Father reads the Book—Mrs. Thrale and Mrs.
  Cholmondeley—Exciting News—Fanny’s Success—Nancy Dawson—The Secret
  told to Mr. Crisp—Characters in ‘Evelina’—Dinner at Streatham—Dr.
  Johnson—David Garrick—The Unclubbable Man—Curiosity as to Authorship
  of ‘Evelina’—The Bookseller in the Dark—Visits to the Thrales—Table
  Talk—Mr. Smith—Goldsmith—Johnson and the Scotch—Civil for Four—Sir
  Joshua Reynolds—Mrs. Montagu—Boswell—The Branghtons—Mrs. Cholmondeley—
  Talk with Sir Joshua—Is it True?—Mrs. Cholmondeley’s Whimsical Manner—
  Visit to her House—Mr. Cumberland—A Hint for a Comedy—A Charmed
  Circle—Sheridan—Not a Fair Question—Pressed to Write for the Stage—
  Flattered by Compliments.

We now approach the time when the ‘History of Evelina’ was given to the
world. There has been much futile controversy as to the date at which
this novel was composed. As the author was unquestionably half-way
between twenty-five and twenty-six when her first book was published, it
has been inferred that she was not much below that age when she began
the story. This inference was put in sharp contrast with a current
report—which cannot be traced to Frances Burney or her family—that she
wrote ‘Evelina’ at seventeen. Her enemy Croker went so far as to suggest
that she represented herself to have been ten years younger than she
really was at the period of the publication.[31] But if we may trust
Mrs. Barrett, who had not only the ‘Memoirs,’ but Fanny’s early and
still unpublished journals to guide her, the author herself would have
been puzzled to say exactly when her tale was written. It was planned in
girlhood, worked at by snatches, and occupied long years in growing up.
The idea of seeing it in print seems to have been conceived in 1776,
shortly after the appearance of the first volume of her father’s
History, and we are distinctly told by Madame d’Arblay and her
biographer, that there was already a manuscript in existence. We gather,
however, that this manuscript was imperfect; and it would manifestly be
presuming too much to suppose that its contents remained unaltered, and
unimproved, in the transcript which the writer proceeded to make before
taking any other step.

Though stimulated by her father’s success, and encouraged by her
sisters, whom she took into her confidence, Fanny was, nevertheless,
determined that, in bringing forward her work, she would keep its
authorship unknown. She therefore copied out her manuscript in a feigned
upright hand, in order to guard against the possibility of her ordinary
writing being recognised by some one who had seen the numerous pages of
the paternal books which she had transcribed for the printer. Tiring of
her irksome task when she had accomplished enough to fill two volumes,
she wrote a letter, without signature, to be sent to some bookseller,
offering the fairly-copied portion for immediate publication, and
promising to forward the rest in the following year. This proposal was
first directed to Dodsley, who, in answer, declined to look at anything
without being previously informed of the author’s name. Fanny and her
sisters, “after sitting in committee on this lofty reply,” addressed
another offer, in like terms, to Lowndes, a publisher in Fleet Street.
The latter, less exacting than his brother at the West-End, desired to
see the manuscript, which—there being no Parcels Delivery Company in
those days—was conveyed to him by young Charles Burney, muffled up by
his sisters to make him look older than he was. Lowndes read, was
pleased, and declared himself willing to purchase and print the work
when finished, but he naturally would not hear of publishing an
unfinished novel. Disappointed at this second rebuff, the impatient
aspirant gave up hope; but, her spirits reviving, after a time, her
third volume was completed and copied before the end of the twelvemonth.
Meanwhile, a scruple had arisen in her mind. Her correspondence with
Lowndes had been carried on without her father’s knowledge; the
publisher’s letters to her being addressed to Mr. Grafton, and sent to
the Orange Coffee House, in Orange Street. But she now saw it to be her
duty not to rush into print without Dr. Burney’s consent. Availing
herself of a propitious moment, when he was bidding her good-bye before
setting out on a visit to Chesington, she confessed to him, with many
blushes, that she had written a little book, and hoped that he would
allow her to publish it on condition of not disclosing her name. She
assured him that he should not be troubled in the business, which her
brother Charles would manage for her, and only begged further that he
would not himself ask to see the manuscript. The Doctor was first
amazed, then amused, and finally bursting into a laugh, kissed her, and
bade her see that Charles was discreet, thus tacitly granting her
petition. The completed work was now forwarded to Lowndes, who without
much delay accepted it, and paid the author what seemed to her the
magnificent sum of twenty pounds for the copyright.

Much censure has been thrown on Dr. Burney for his conduct in this
transaction. He ought, we are told, to have given his daughter serious
counsel as to the perils of authorship, to have inquired into the merits
of her production, and to have seen that she made the best possible
terms with the bookseller. ‘Happily,’ says Macaulay, ‘his inexcusable
neglect of duty caused her no worse evil than the loss of twelve or
fifteen hundred pounds.’ We doubt if it cost her the twelfth part of the
smaller sum. It is most unlikely, we think, that an untried and
anonymous writer could, with the best assistance, have commanded a
hundred pounds for a first attempt at fiction. We are not concerned to
defend Dr. Burney, but to us he seems to have failed less in carefulness
than in discernment. He could not believe his ears when Frances spoke of
having a book ready for the press. He looked on her scheme of
publication as an idle fancy, and doubtless was convinced that nothing
would come of it. Her motive for concealing her project from him had
been merely dread of his ridicule. Until ‘Evelina’ became an assured
success, he had no faith in the ability of his second daughter. ‘Poor
Fanny’—so he used to call her—was, in his eyes, a dutiful and
affectionate child, and a useful amanuensis, and nothing more. So little
did he expect ever to hear again of her embryo work, that he did not
even ask its title.

At length, in January, 1778, ‘Evelina’ was published. The author was
informed of the event through hearing an advertisement announcing it
read aloud by her step-mother at breakfast-time. Those of the party who
were in the secret smiled, or blushed; those who were not suspected
nothing. Several weeks elapsed before the new novel attracted much
attention. Meanwhile the writer was laid up with inflammation of the
lungs. On quitting her bedroom, she found that, in the circles known to
her, her book was being widely read, with speculations as to its
authorship. One acquaintance attributed it to Anstey, then famous for
his ‘New Bath Guide;’ most voices agreed that it could not have
proceeded from a woman’s pen—a conclusion which, with the usual
perversity of her sex, Miss Burney regarded as a high compliment. Then
the magazines commenced to speak in its praise. The _London Review_ and
the _Monthly Review_ both gave favourable notices. Thus stimulated, the
sale increased, till at the end of the fifth month two editions had been
exhausted, and a third was fast being disposed of.[32] By May, Fanny was
sufficiently recovered to leave town, and went on a long visit to
Chesington, where, as she ‘could hardly walk three yards in a day at
first,’ she amused herself with reading ‘Evelina’ to Daddy Crisp, and
goading his curiosity by allusions to dark reports about its origin.
Crisp, who, of course, suspected some mystery, was guarded in his
praise, but gratified his young favourite by betraying a most uncynical
eagerness for the third volume as soon as the first two had been
despatched. Before long, exciting letters from home began to pour in on
the convalescent at the Hall. She gives the substance of some of them in
her Diary:

  “I received from Charlotte a letter, the most interesting that could
  be written to me, for it acquainted me that my dear father was at
  length reading my book, which has now been published six months. How
  this has come to pass, I am yet in the dark; but it seems ... he
  desired Charlotte to bring him the _Monthly Review_; she contrived to
  look over his shoulder as he opened it, which he did at the account of
  ‘Evelina; or, A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.’ He read it with
  great earnestness, then put it down; and presently after snatched it
  up, and read it again. Doubtless his paternal heart felt some
  agitation for his girl in reading a review of her publication!—how he
  got at the name I cannot imagine. Soon after, he turned to Charlotte,
  and bidding her come close to him, he put his finger on the word
  ‘Evelina,’ and saying _she knew what it was_, bade her write down the
  name, and send the man to Lowndes’, as if for herself. This she did,
  and away went William. When William returned, he took the book from
  him, and the moment he was gone, opened the first volume—and opened it
  upon the _Ode_!”

Prefixed to Evelina was an inscription in verse to the writer’s father,
much more remarkable for tenderness of feeling than for poetical merit.

  “How great must have been his astonishment at seeing himself so
  addressed! Indeed, Charlotte says he looked all amazement, read a line
  or two with great eagerness, and then, stopping short, he seemed quite
  affected, and the tears started into his eyes. Dear soul! I am sure
  they did into mine; nay, I even sobbed as I read the account.

  I believe he was obliged to go out before he advanced much further.
  But the next day I had a letter from Susan, in which I heard that he
  had begun reading it with Lady Hales and Miss Coussmaker, and that
  they liked it vastly! Lady Hales spoke of it very innocently, in the
  highest terms, declaring she was sure it was written by somebody in
  high life, and that it had all the marks of real genius! She added,
  ‘He must be a man of great abilities.’”

Dr. Burney’s opinion was expressed with even greater simplicity than
this. From an unbeliever he had been suddenly changed into a worshipper,
and in the first glow of his conversion, he pronounced the new novel to
be the best he had met with, excepting Fielding’s, and in some respects
better than _his_! A proselyte himself, he was at once full of schemes
for spreading the knowledge of the true faith. He would begin by telling
Mrs. Thrale, as the centre of a large literary circle. Before he could
broach the subject, he heard his daughter’s book celebrated at the
Streatham tea-table. “Madam,” cried Dr. Johnson, see-sawing on his
chair, “Mrs. Cholmondeley was talking to me last night of a new novel,
which, she says, has a very uncommon share of merit—‘Evelina.’ She says
that she has not been so entertained this great while as in reading it,
and that she shall go all over London to discover the author.” Mrs.
Cholmondeley was a sister of Peg Woffington, the actress, and had
married Captain Cholmondeley, second son of the Earl of Cholmondeley,
and a nephew of Horace Walpole. Her husband afterwards quitted the army,
and took orders; and at this time the _salon_ of the witty and eccentric
Mrs. Cholmondeley was in high repute. Besides recommending Evelina to
Johnson, she had engaged Burke and Reynolds to get it, and announced her
intention of keeping it on her table the whole summer to make it as
widely known as possible. All this made it necessary for her friend and
rival, Mrs. Thrale, not to be left in the background. There was but one
thing to be done: the lady of Streatham lost no time in procuring and
reading this new success; fell into a rapture over it; bepraised it with
her usual vivacity, and passed it on to Johnson. The great man took to
it immensely. When he had finished one volume, he was as impatient as
Crisp had been for the next, protesting that _he could not get rid of
the rogue_; and his judgment was that there were passages in the book
that might do honour to Richardson. The packet of letters in which this
compliment was transmitted to Fanny reported also that Sir Joshua
Reynolds had forgotten his dinner while engrossed with her story, and
that Burke had sat up all night to finish it; and Dr. Burney added an
enclosure, in which he said: ‘Thou hast made thy old father laugh and
cry at thy pleasure.’

If Mrs. Cholmondeley could claim to have introduced Evelina to the
polite world, to Mrs. Thrale fell the distinction of making known its
author. After ratifying the general opinion of the work, Mrs. Thrale
asked, in Burney’s presence, whether Mrs. Cholmondeley had yet found out
the writer, ‘because,’ said the speaker, ‘I long to know him of all
things.’ This inquiry produced an avowal, which the Doctor had obtained
his daughter’s permission to make; and shortly afterwards he appeared at
Chesington to carry her to Streatham, and present her, by appointment,
to the Thrales—and to Dr. Johnson.

Many surprising successes are recorded in the annals of literature; but
there have been few quite like this. Lately the least noticed member of
her father’s household, Frances Burney was now elevated far above its
head. Other writers before their rise have been insignificant; the
author of Evelina was despised. Proud and happy man though he was, Dr.
Burney could not at once break off the habit of calling her _poor
Fanny_. “Do you breathe, my dear Fanny?” asks Susan in a letter, after
recounting part of the wonders above mentioned. “It took away my
breath,” adds the writer, “and then made me skip about like a mad
creature.” “My dearest Susy,” responds Fanny, “don’t you think there
must be some wager depending among the little curled imps who hover over
us mortals, of how much flummery goes to turn the head of an authoress?
Your last communication very near did my business, for, meeting Mr.
Crisp ere I had composed myself, I ‘tipt him such a touch of the
heroics’ as he has not seen since the time when I was so much celebrated
for dancing ‘Nancy Dawson.’[33] I absolutely longed to treat him with
one of Captain Mirvan’s[34] frolics, and to fling his wig out of the
window. I restrained myself, however, from the apprehension that they
would imagine I had a universal spite to that harmless piece of goods,
which I have already been known to treat with no little indignity. He
would fain have discovered the reason of my skittishness; but as I could
not tell it him, I was obliged to assure him it would be lost time to
inquire further into my flights.” Refraining from the wig, Fanny darted
out of the room, and, as she tells us elsewhere,[35] performed a sort of
jig round an old mulberry-tree that stood on the lawn before the house.
She related this incident many years afterwards to Sir Walter Scott, who
has recorded it in his journal.[36]

It will be gathered from our last extract that Mr. Crisp was not yet in
possession of the great secret. Fanny dreaded the edge of his criticism,
even more than she had dreaded the chill of her father’s contempt. Dr.
Burney arrived at the Hall to fetch away his daughter on the first
Saturday in August, and it was agreed between them that a disclosure
could no longer be deferred. “My dear father,” says the Diary, “desired
to take upon himself the communication to my Daddy Crisp, and as it is
now in so many hands that it is possible accident might discover it to
him, I readily consented. Sunday evening, as I was going into my
father’s room, I heard him say, ‘The variety of characters, the variety
of scenes, and the language—why, she has had very little education but
what she has given herself—less than any of the others!’ and Mr. Crisp
exclaimed, ‘Wonderful! it’s wonderful!’ I now found what was going
forward, and therefore deemed it most fitting to decamp. About an hour
after, as I was passing through the hall, I met my Daddy Crisp. His face
was all animation and archness; he doubled his fist at me, and would
have stopped me, but I ran past him into the parlour. Before supper,
however, I again met him, and he would not suffer me to escape; he
caught both my hands, and looked as if he would have looked me through,
and then exclaimed, ‘Why, you little hussy, ain’t you ashamed to look me
in the face, you ‘Evelina,’ you! Why, what a dance have you led me about
it! Young friend, indeed! Oh, you little hussy, what tricks have you
served me!’ I was obliged to allow of his running on with these gentle
appellations for I know not how long, ere he could sufficiently compose
himself, after his great surprise, to ask or hear any particulars; and
then he broke out every three instants with exclamations of astonishment
at how I had found time to write so much unsuspected, and how and where
I had picked up such various materials; and not a few times did he, with
me, as he had with my father, exclaim, ‘Wonderful!’ He has since made me
read him all my letters upon this subject. He said Lowndes would have
made an estate, had he given me £1,000 for it, and that he ought not to
have given less. ‘You have nothing to do now,’ continued he, ‘but to
take your pen in hand, for your fame and reputation are made, and any
bookseller will snap at what you write.’”

A day or two after this conversation, Fanny and her father left Liberty
Hall, as Mr. Crisp was pleased to designate his retreat. Arrived at the
verge of our own heroine’s entrance into the world, we shall not stop to
discuss the question how far she was entitled to the fame she had so
rapidly won, nor shall we engage in any criticism of the work by which
she had acquired it. We may assent to the admission of an admirer that
the society depicted in Evelina is made up of unreal beings. What else
could be expected from a fiction designed in immature youth, executed,
like patchwork, at intervals, and put together, at last, without advice
from any experienced person? Real or unreal, however, the characters in
the novel were vivid enough to interest strongly those of the writer’s
contemporaries who were most familiar with the world and human nature.

In the conversations which we are about to extract will be found
numerous allusions to personages who, though fictitious, are, at any
rate, as substantial for us as most of the talkers, who have long since
passed into the region of shadows. We may leave to Miss Burney the task
of introducing her friends; she mentions the creations of her brain
without a word of explanation, because she knew that the few eyes and
ears for which her Diary was intended were as well acquainted with them
as herself. It therefore devolves on us to indicate the chief actors in
Evelina to our readers. We have the honour to present: Madame Duval,
Evelina’s low-bred grandmother from Paris, interlarding her illiterate
English with an incessant _Ma foi!_ and other French interjections;
Captain Mirvan, a fair specimen of the coarse naval officer of that
time;[37] the Branghtons, a vulgar family living on Snow Hill; Mr.
Smith, a Holborn beau, lodging with the Branghtons. Add to these, Lord
Orville, the hero, and Sir Clement Willoughby, the villain of the piece;
Mr. Lovel, a fop; Lady Louisa, a languishing dame of quality; Sir John
Belmont, the heroine’s father; M. Du Bois, a Frenchman in attendance on
Madame Duval; and Mr. Macartney, a starving Scotch poet. Of the last
two, the author conferred on the former the maiden name of her
grandmother; on the latter, the maiden-name of her god-mother, Mrs.

We will give Fanny’s account of her first dinner at Streatham in the
words of her Diary:

  “When we were summoned to dinner, Mrs. Thrale made my father and me
  sit on each side of her. I said that I hoped I did not take Dr.
  Johnson’s place;—for he had not yet appeared.

  ‘No,’ answered Mrs. Thrale, ‘he will sit by you, which I am sure will
  give him great pleasure.’

  Soon after we were seated, this great man entered. I have so true a
  veneration for him, that the very sight of him inspires me with
  delight and reverence, notwithstanding the cruel infirmities to which
  he is subject; for he has almost perpetual convulsive movements,
  either of his hands, lips, feet, or knees, and sometimes of all

  Mrs. Thrale introduced me to him, and he took his place. We had a
  noble dinner, and a most elegant dessert. Dr. Johnson, in the middle
  of dinner, asked Mrs. Thrale what was in some little pies that were
  near him.

  ‘Mutton,’ answered she; ‘so I don’t ask you to eat any, because I know
  you despise it.’

  ‘No, madam, no,’ cried he; ‘I despise nothing that is good of its
  sort; but I am too proud now to eat of it. Sitting by Miss Burney
  makes me very proud to-day!’

  ‘Miss Burney,’ said Mrs. Thrale, laughing, ‘you must take great care
  of your heart if Dr. Johnson attacks it; for I assure you he is not
  often successless.’

  ‘What’s that you say, madam?’ cried he; ‘are you making mischief
  between the young lady and me already?’

  A little while after he drank Miss Thrale’s health and mine, and then

  ‘’Tis a terrible thing that we cannot wish young ladies well without
  wishing them to become old women!’

  ‘But some people,’ said Mr. Seward, ‘are old and young at the same
  time, for they wear so well that they never look old.’

  ‘No, sir, no,’ cried the doctor, laughing; ‘that never yet was; you
  might as well say they are at the same time tall and short. I remember
  an epitaph to that purpose, which is in——’

  (I have quite forgot what,—and also the name it was made upon, but the
  rest I recollect exactly:)

                      ‘—— lies buried here;
                So early wise, so lasting fair,
                That none, unless her years you told,
                Thought her a child, or thought her old.’

  Mrs. Thrale then repeated some lines in French, and Dr. Johnson some
  more in Latin. An epilogue of Mr. Garrick’s to ‘Bonduca’ was then
  mentioned, and Dr. Johnson said it was a miserable performance, and
  everybody agreed it was the worst he had ever made.

  ‘And yet,’ said Mr. Seward, ‘it has been very much admired: but it is
  in praise of English valour, and so I suppose the subject made it

  ‘I don’t know, sir,’ said Dr. Johnson, ‘anything about the subject,
  for I could not read on till I came to it; I got through half a dozen
  lines, but I could observe no other subject than eternal dulness. I
  don’t know what is the matter with David; I am afraid he is grown
  superannuated, for his prologues and epilogues used to be

  ‘Nothing is so fatiguing,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘as the life of a wit; he
  and Wilkes are the two oldest men of their ages I know, for they have
  both worn themselves out by being eternally on the rack to give
  entertainment to others.’

  ‘David, madam,’ said the doctor, ‘looks much older than he is; for his
  face has had double the business of any other man’s; it is never at
  rest; when he speaks one minute, he has quite a different countenance
  to what he assumes the next. I don’t believe he ever kept the same
  look for half an hour together in the whole course of his life; and
  such an eternal, restless, fatiguing play of the muscles must
  certainly wear out a man’s face before its real time.’

  ‘O yes,’ cried Mrs. Thrale; ‘we must certainly make some allowance for
  such wear and tear of a man’s face.’

  The next name that was started was that of Sir John Hawkins, and Mrs.
  Thrale said:

  ‘Why now, Dr. Johnson, he is another of those whom you suffer nobody
  to abuse but yourself; Garrick is one, too; for if any other person
  speaks against him, you browbeat him in a minute!’

  ‘Why, madam,’ answered he, ‘they don’t know when to abuse him, and
  when to praise him; I will allow no man to speak ill of David that he
  does not deserve; and as to Sir John, why really I believe him to be
  an honest man at the bottom: but to be sure he is penurious, and he is
  mean, and it must be owned he has a degree of brutality, and a
  tendency to savageness, that cannot easily be defended.’

  We all laughed, as he meant we should, at this curious manner of
  speaking in his favour, and he then related an anecdote that he said
  he knew to be true in regard to his meanness. He said that Sir John
  and he once belonged to the same club, but that as he ate no supper
  after the first night of his admission, he desired to be excused
  paying his share.

  ‘And was he excused?’

  ‘O yes; for no man is angry at another for being inferior to himself!
  we all scorned him, and admitted his plea. For my part, I was such a
  fool as to pay my share for wine, though I never tasted any. But Sir
  John was a most _unclubbable_ man!’

  ‘And this,’ continued he, ‘reminds me of a gentleman and lady with
  whom I travelled once; I suppose I must call them gentleman and lady,
  according to form, because they travelled in their own coach and four
  horses. But at the first inn where we stopped, the lady called for—a
  pint of ale! and when it came, quarrelled with the waiter for not
  giving full measure. Now, Madame Duval could not have done a grosser

  Oh, how everybody laughed! and to be sure I did not glow at all, nor
  munch fast, nor look on my plate, nor lose any part of my usual
  composure! But how grateful do I feel to this dear Dr. Johnson, for
  never naming me and the book as belonging one to the other, and yet
  making an allusion that showed his thoughts led to it, and, at the
  same time, that seemed to justify the character as being natural! But,
  indeed, the delicacy I met with from him, and from all the Thrales,
  was yet more flattering to me than the praise with which I have heard
  they have honoured my book.

  After dinner, when Mrs. Thrale and I left the gentlemen, we had a
  conversation that to me could not but be delightful, as she was all
  good-humour, spirits, sense, and _agreeability_. Surely I may make
  words, when at a loss, if Dr. Johnson does.

  We left Streatham at about eight o’clock, and Mr. Seward, who handed
  me into the chaise, added his interest to the rest, that my father
  would not fail to bring me again next week to stay with them for some
  time. In short, I was loaded with civilities from them all. And my
  ride home was equally happy with the rest of the day, for my kind and
  most beloved father was so happy in _my_ happiness, and congratulated
  me so sweetly, that he could, like myself, think on no other subject.

  Yet my honours stopped not here; for Hetty, who, with her _sposo_, was
  here to receive us, told me she had lately met Mrs. Reynolds, sister
  of Sir Joshua; and that she talked very much and very highly of a new
  novel called ‘Evelina;’ though without a shadow of suspicion as to the

  Sir Joshua, it seems, vows he would give fifty pounds to know the
  author! I have also heard, by the means of Charles, that other persons
  have declared they _will_ find him out!

  This intelligence determined me upon going myself to Mr. Lowndes, and
  discovering what sort of answers he made to such curious inquirers as
  I found were likely to address him. But as I did not dare trust myself
  to speak, for I felt that I should not be able to act my part well, I
  asked my mother to accompany me.

  We introduced ourselves by buying the book, for which I had a
  commission from Mrs. G——. Fortunately Mr. Lowndes himself was in the
  shop; as we found by his air of consequence and authority, as well as
  his age; for I never saw him before.

  The moment he had given my mother the book, she asked if he could tell
  her who wrote it.

  ‘No,’ he answered: ‘I don’t know myself.’

  ‘Pho, pho,’ said she; ‘you mayn’t choose to tell, but you must know.’

  ‘I don’t, indeed, ma’am,’ answered he; ‘I have no honour in keeping
  the secret, for I have never been trusted. All I know of the matter
  is, that it is a gentleman of the other end of the town.’

  My mother made a thousand other inquiries, to which his answers were
  to the following effect: that for a great while, he did not know if it
  was a man or a woman; but now, he knew that much, and that he was a
  master of his subject, and well versed in the manners of the times.”

A few days after this, Mrs. Thrale called in St. Martin’s Street, and
carried her new acquaintance down to Streatham:

  “At night, Mrs. Thrale asked if I would have anything? I answered,
  ‘No;’ but Dr. Johnson said,—

  ‘Yes: she is used, madam, to suppers; she would like an egg or two,
  and a few slices of ham, or a rasher—a rasher, I believe, would please
  her better.’

  How ridiculous! However, nothing could persuade Mrs. Thrale not to
  have the cloth laid; and Dr. Johnson was so facetious, that he
  challenged Mr. Thrale to get drunk!

  ‘I wish,’ said he, ‘my master would say to me, Johnson, if you will
  oblige me, you will call for a bottle of Toulon, and then we will set
  to it, glass for glass, till it is done; and after that I will say,
  Thrale, if you will oblige me, you will call for another bottle of
  Toulon, and then we will set to it, glass for glass, till that is
  done: and by the time we should have drunk the two bottles we should
  be so happy, and such good friends, that we should fly into each
  other’s arms, and both together call for the third!’

  I ate nothing, that they might not again use such a ceremony with me.
  Indeed, their late dinners forbid suppers, especially as Dr. Johnson
  made me eat cake at tea; for he held it till I took it, with an odd or
  absent complaisance.

  He was extremely comical after supper, and would not suffer Mrs.
  Thrale and me to go to bed for near an hour after we made the

  Now for this morning’s breakfast.

  Dr. Johnson, as usual, came last into the library; he was in high
  spirits, and full of mirth and sport. I had the honour of sitting next
  to him: and now, all at once, he flung aside his reserve, thinking,
  perhaps, that it was time I should fling aside mine.

  Mrs. Thrale told him that she intended taking me to Mr. T——’s.

  ‘So you ought, madam,’ cried he; ‘’tis your business to be cicerone to

  Then suddenly he snatched my hand, and kissing it,

  ‘Ah!’ he added, ‘they will little think what a tartar you carry to

  ‘No, that they won’t!’ cried Mrs. Thrale; ‘Miss Burney looks so meek
  and so quiet, nobody would suspect what a comical girl she is; but I
  believe she has a great deal of malice at heart.’

  ‘Oh, she’s a toad!’ cried the doctor, laughing—‘a sly young rogue!
  with her Smiths and her Branghtons!’

  ‘Why, Dr. Johnson,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘I hope you are very well this
  morning! If one may judge by your spirits and good-humour, the fever
  you threatened us with is gone off.’

  He had complained that he was going to be ill last night.

  ‘Why, no, madam, no,’ answered he, ‘I am not yet well; I could not
  sleep at all; there I lay, restless and uneasy, and thinking all the
  time of Miss Burney. Perhaps I have offended her, thought I; perhaps
  she is angry; I have seen her but once, and I talked to her of a
  rasher!—Were you angry?’

  I think I need not tell you my answer.

  ‘I have been endeavouring to find some excuse,’ continued he, ‘and, as
  I could not sleep, I got up, and looked for some authority for the
  word; and I find, madam, it is used by Dryden: in one of his prologues
  he says—“And snatch a homely rasher from the coals.” So you must not
  mind me, madam; I say strange things, but I mean no harm.’

  I was almost afraid he thought I was really idiot enough to have taken
  him seriously; but, a few minutes after, he put his hand on my arm,
  and shaking his head, exclaimed:

  ‘Oh, you are a sly little rogue!—what a Holborn beau have you drawn!’

  ‘Ay, Miss Burney,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘the Holborn beau is Dr.
  Johnson’s favourite; and we have all your characters by heart, from
  Mr. Smith up to Lady Louisa.’

  ‘Oh, Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith is the man!’ cried he, laughing violently.
  ‘Harry Fielding never drew so good a character!—such a fine varnish of
  low politeness!—such a struggle to appear a gentleman! Madam, there is
  no character better drawn anywhere—in any book, or by any author.’

  I almost poked myself under the table. Never did I feel so delicious a
  confusion since I was born! But he added a great deal more, only I
  cannot recollect his exact words, and I do not choose to give him

  ‘Come, come,’ cried Mrs. Thrale, ‘we’ll torment her no more about her
  book, for I see it really plagues her. I own I thought for awhile it
  was only affectation, for I’m sure if the book were mine I should wish
  to hear of nothing else. But we shall teach her in time how proud she
  ought to be of such a performance.’

  ‘Ah, madam,’ cried the Doctor, ‘be in no haste to teach her that;
  she’ll speak no more to us when she knows her own weight.’...

  Some time after the Doctor began laughing to himself, and then,
  suddenly turning to me, he called out, ‘Only think, Polly! Miss has
  danced with a lord!’

  ‘Ah, poor Evelina!’ cried Mrs. Thrale, ‘I see her now in Kensington
  Gardens. What she must have suffered! Poor girl! what fidgets she must
  have been in! And I know Mr. Smith, too, very well; I always have him
  before me at the Hampstead Ball, dressed in a white coat, and a
  tambour waistcoat, worked in green silk. Poor Mr. Seward! Mr. Johnson
  made him so mad t’other day! “Why, Seward,” said he, “how smart you
  are dressed! Why you only want a tambour waistcoat, to look like Mr.
  Smith!” But I am very fond of Lady Louisa. I think her as well drawn
  as any character in the book—so fine, so affected, so languishing,
  and, at the same time, so insolent!...

  As I have always heard from my father that every individual at
  Streatham spends the morning alone, I took the first opportunity of
  absconding to my own room, and amused myself in writing till I tired.
  About noon, when I went into the library, book-hunting, Mrs. Thrale
  came to me.

  We had a very nice confab about various books, and exchanged opinions
  and imitations of Baretti; she told me many excellent tales of him,
  and I, in return, related my stories.

  She gave me a long and very interesting account of Dr. Goldsmith, who
  was intimately known here; but in speaking of ‘The Good-natured Man,’
  when I extolled my favourite Croaker, I found that admirable character
  was a downright theft from Dr. Johnson. Look at the ‘Rambler,’ and you
  will find Suspirius is the man, and that not merely the idea, but the
  particulars of the character are all stolen thence![38]

  While we were yet reading this ‘Rambler,’ Dr. Johnson came in: we told
  him what we were about.

  ‘Ah, madam!’ cried he, ‘Goldsmith was not scrupulous; but he would
  have been a great man had he known the real value of his own internal

  ‘Miss Burney,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘is fond of his “Vicar of Wakefield,”
  and so am I; don’t you like it, sir?’

  ‘No, madam; it is very faulty. There is nothing of real life in it,
  and very little of nature. It is a mere fanciful performance.’

  He then seated himself upon a sofa, and calling to me, said: ‘Come,
  Evelina—come, and sit by me.’

  I obeyed, and he took me almost in his arms—that is, one of his arms,
  for one would go three times, at least, round me—and, half-laughing,
  half-serious, he charged me to ‘be a good girl.’

  ‘But, my dear,’ continued he with a very droll look, ‘what makes you
  so fond of the Scotch? I don’t like you for that; I hate these Scotch,
  and so must you. I wish Branghton had sent the dog to jail—that Scotch
  dog, Macartney!’

  ‘Why, sir,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘don’t you remember he says he would,
  but that he should get nothing by it?’

  ‘Why, ay, true,’ cried the Doctor, see-sawing very solemnly, ‘that,
  indeed, is some palliation for his forbearance. But I must not have
  you so fond of the Scotch, my little Burney; make your hero what you
  will but a Scotchman. Besides, you write Scotch—you say, “the one.” My
  dear, that’s not English—never use that phrase again.’

  ‘Perhaps,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘it may be used in Macartney’s letter,
  and then it will be a propriety.’

  ‘No, madam, no!’ cried he; ‘you can’t make a beauty of it; it is in
  the third volume; put it in Macartney’s letter, and welcome!—that, or
  anything that is nonsense.’

  ‘Why, surely,’ cried I, ‘the poor man is used ill enough by the

  ‘But Branghton,’ said he, ‘only hates him because of his wretchedness,
  poor fellow! But, my dear love, how should he ever have eaten a good
  dinner before he came to England?’

  And then he laughed violently at young Branghton’s idea.

  ‘Well,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘I always liked Macartney; he is a very
  pretty character, and I took to him, as the folks say.’

  ‘Why, madam,’ answered he, ‘I liked Macartney myself. Yes, poor
  fellow, I liked the man, but I love not the nation.’”

Miss Burney’s visit on this occasion lasted several days, and it was
speedily followed by another and another. Mrs. Thrale, having discovered
a fresh attraction for her country house, hastened to turn it to the
best account. The friendship between her and the new authoress developed
with the rapid growth peculiar to feminine attachments. And Fanny
enjoyed her life at Streatham. Dr. Johnson was nearly always there; she
liked the family; and the opulent establishment, with its well-kept
gardens, hot-houses, shrubberies, and paddock, had all the charm of
novelty to a young woman, whose time had long been divided between the
smoky atmosphere of Leicester Fields and the desolation of Liberty Hall.
The great Doctor, whose affection for her increased daily, took an early
opportunity of saying to her: ‘These are as good people as you can be
with; you can go to no better house; they are all good-nature; nothing
makes them angry.’ She found no cause to complain of Mr. Thrale’s curt
speech, or the eldest daughter’s cold manner, or the roughness of Ursa
Major, though she has reported Mrs. Thrale’s quick answer to Johnson
when he asked the motive of his hostess’s excessive complaisance: ‘Why,
I’ll tell you, sir; when I am with you, and Mr. Thrale, and Queeny, I am
obliged to be civil for four.’

If Mrs. Thrale engrossed a large share of her novice’s time this autumn,
she took pains to make her talk a little in company, and prepared her,
in some degree, for the ordeal that awaited her during the ensuing
winter in London. Numerous visitors were invited to Streatham to become
acquainted with the timid young writer, who, though accustomed to
society, had never yet learned to make her voice heard in a circle of
listeners. One afternoon Sir Joshua Reynolds and his nieces came down,
and on their arrival, the conversation being turned to the subject of
Evelina, they were informed that they should meet the author at dinner.
After a good deal of guessing, the suspicions of the guests settled on
the lady of the house, who sportively assumed a conscious air, but
before the close of the day, the secret was allowed to transpire, and
when the party broke up, Sir Joshua, approaching Miss Burney, with his
most courtly bow, hoped that as soon as she left Streatham he should
have the honour of seeing her in Leicester Square.

“The joke is,” writes Fanny, “the people speak as if they were afraid of
me, instead of my being afraid of them.... Next morning, Mrs. Thrale
asked me if I did not want to see Mrs. Montagu? I truly said, I should
be the most insensible of animals not to like to see our sex’s glory.” A
note was despatched accordingly, and the glory of her sex graciously
accepted. On hearing of this, “Dr. Johnson began to see-saw, with a
countenance strongly expressive of inward fun, and after enjoying it
some time in silence, he suddenly, and with great animation, turned to
me, and cried: ‘Down with her, Burney!—down with her!—spare her not!—
attack her, fight her, and down with her at once! You are a rising wit,
and she is at the top; and when I was beginning the world, and was
nothing and nobody, the joy of my life was to fire at all the
established wits! and then everybody loved to halloo me on. But there is
no game now; everybody would be glad to see me conquered: but then, when
I was new, to vanquish the great ones was all the delight of my poor
little dear soul! So at her, Burney—at her, and down with her.’” The
Queen of the Blue Stockings arrived, attended by her companion, a Miss
Gregory; and the usual presentation and disclosure took place. Fanny, of
course, had not much to say for herself, but the observant eyes were
busy as usual. This is their report of Mrs. Montagu; “She is
middle-sized, very thin, and looks infirm; she has a sensible and
penetrating countenance, and the air and manner of a woman accustomed to
being distinguished, and of great parts. Dr. Johnson, who agrees in
this, told us that Mrs. Hervey, of his acquaintance, says she can
remember Mrs. Montagu _trying_ for this same air and manner. Mr. Crisp
has said the same: however, nobody can now impartially see her, and not
confess that she has extremely well succeeded.” When dinner was upon
table, the observer followed the procession, in a tragedy step, as Mr.
Thrale would have it, into the dining-room. The conversation was not
brilliant, nor is much of it recorded. When Mrs. Montagu’s new house[39]
was talked of, Dr. Johnson, in a jocose manner, desired to know if he
should be invited to see it. ‘Ay, sure,’ cried Mrs. Montagu, looking
well pleased; ‘or else I shan’t like it: but I invite you all to a
house-warming; I shall hope for the honour of seeing all this company at
my new house next Easter-day: I fix the day now that it may be
remembered.’ “Dr. Johnson,” adds Fanny, “who sat next to me, was
determined I should be of the party, for he suddenly clapped his hand on
my shoulder, and called out aloud: ‘Little Burney, you and I will go
together.’ ‘Yes, surely,’ cried Mrs. Montagu, ‘I shall hope for the
pleasure of seeing Evelina.’”

It was at Streatham shortly afterwards that Miss Burney made her first
acquaintance with James Boswell. We do not get our account of this
meeting direct from the Diary, and have to take it as it stands in the
Memoirs, dressed up by the pen of the aged Madame d’Arblay. Boswell, we
are told, had a strong Scotch accent, though by no means strong enough
to make him unintelligible to an English ear. He had an odd mock
solemnity of tone and manner that he had acquired unconsciously from
constantly thinking of, and imitating, Johnson. There was also something
slouching in the gait and dress of Mr. Boswell that ridiculously
caricatured the same model. His clothes were always too large for him;
his hair, or wig, was constantly in a state of negligence; and he never
for a moment sat still or upright in his chair. Every look and movement
betrayed either intentional or involuntary imitation:

  “As Mr. Boswell was at Streatham only upon a morning visit, a
  collation was ordered, to which all were assembled. Mr. Boswell was
  preparing to take a seat that he seemed, by prescription, to consider
  as his own, next to Dr. Johnson; but Mr. Seward, who was present,
  waved his hand for Mr. Boswell to move farther on, saying with a

  “‘Mr. Boswell, that seat is Miss Burney’s.’

  “He stared, amazed: the asserted claimant was new and unknown to him,
  and he appeared by no means pleased to resign his prior rights. But
  after looking round for a minute or two, with an important air of
  demanding the meaning of the innovation, and receiving no
  satisfaction, he reluctantly, almost resentfully, got another chair,
  and placed it at the back of the shoulder of Dr. Johnson; while this
  new and unheard-of rival quietly seated herself as if not hearing what
  was passing, for she shrank from the explanation that she feared might
  ensue, as she saw a smile stealing over every countenance, that of Dr.
  Johnson himself not excepted, at the discomfiture and surprise of Mr.

  “Mr. Boswell, however, was so situated as not to remark it in the
  Doctor; and of everyone else, when in that presence, he was
  unobservant, if not contemptuous. In truth, when he met with Dr.
  Johnson, he commonly forbore even answering anything that went
  forward, lest he should miss the smallest sound from that voice to
  which he paid such exclusive, though merited, homage. But the moment
  that voice burst forth, the attention which it excited in Mr. Boswell
  amounted almost to pain. His eyes goggled with eagerness; he leant his
  ear almost on the shoulder of the Doctor; and his mouth dropped open
  to catch every syllable that might be uttered: nay, he seemed not only
  to dread losing a word, but to be anxious not to miss a breathing; as
  if hoping from it, latently or mystically, some information.

  “But when, in a few minutes, Dr. Johnson, whose eye did not follow
  him, and who had concluded him to be at the other end of the table,
  said something gaily and good-humouredly, by the appellation of Bozzy,
  and discovered, by the sound of the reply, that Bozzy had planted
  himself, as closely as he could, behind and between the elbows of the
  new usurper and his own, the Doctor turned angrily round upon him,
  and, clapping his hand rather loudly upon his knee, said, in a tone of
  displeasure: ‘What do you do there, sir?—Go to the table, sir!’

  “Mr. Boswell instantly, and with an air of affright, obeyed; and there
  was something so unusual in such humble submission to so imperious a
  command, that another smile gleamed its way across every mouth, except
  that of the Doctor and of Mr. Boswell, who now, very unwillingly, took
  a distant seat.

  “But, ever restless when not at the side of Dr. Johnson, he presently
  recollected something that he wished to exhibit; and, hastily rising,
  was running away in its search, when the Doctor, calling after him,
  authoritatively said: ‘What are you thinking of, sir? Why do you get
  up before the cloth is removed?—Come back to your place, sir!’

  “Again, and with equal obsequiousness, Mr. Boswell did as he was bid;
  when the Doctor, pursing his lips not to betray rising risibility,
  muttered half to himself: ‘Running about in the middle of meals! One
  would take you for a Branghton!’

  “‘A Branghton, sir?’ repeated Mr. Boswell, with earnestness; ‘what is
  a Branghton, sir?’

  “‘Where have you lived, sir?’ cried the Doctor, laughing; ‘and what
  company have you kept, not to know that?’

  “Mr. Boswell now, doubly curious, yet always apprehensive of falling
  into some disgrace with Dr. Johnson, said, in a low tone, which he
  knew the Doctor could not hear, to Mrs. Thrale: ‘Pray, ma’am, what’s a
  Branghton? Do me the favour to tell me! Is it some animal hereabouts?’

  “Mrs. Thrale only heartily laughed, but without answering, as she saw
  one of her guests uneasily fearful of an explanation. But Mr. Seward
  cried: ‘I’ll tell you, Boswell—I’ll tell you!—if you will walk with me
  into the paddock; only let us wait till the table is cleared, or I
  shall be taken for a Branghton, too!’

  “They soon went off together; and Mr. Boswell, no doubt, was fully
  informed of the road that had led to the usurpation by which he had
  thus been annoyed. But the Branghton fabricator took care to mount to
  her chamber ere they returned, and did not come down till Mr. Boswell
  was gone.”

The following December and January Miss Burney spent at home. She paid
her promised visit to Sir Joshua Reynolds:

  “We found the Miss Palmers alone. We were, for near an hour, quite
  easy, chatty, and comfortable; no pointed speech was made, and no
  starer entered.

  “Just then, Mrs. and Miss Horneck were announced....

  “Mrs. Horneck, as I found in the course of the evening, is an
  exceeding sensible, well-bred woman.[40] Her daughter is very
  beautiful; but was low-spirited and silent during the whole visit. She
  was, indeed, very unhappy, as Miss Palmer informed me, upon account of
  some ill news she had lately heard of the affairs of a gentleman to
  whom she is shortly to be married.

  “Not long after came a whole troop, consisting of Mr. Cholmondeley!—O
  perilous name!—Miss Cholmondeley, and Miss Fanny Cholmondeley, his
  daughters, and Miss Forrest. Mrs. Cholmondeley, I found, was engaged
  elsewhere, but soon expected.

  “Now here was a trick of Sir Joshua, to make me meet all these people!

  “Mr. Cholmondeley is a clergyman; nothing shining either in person or
  manners, but rather somewhat grim in the first, and glum in the last.
  Yet he appears to have humour himself, and to enjoy it much in

  “Next came my father, all gaiety and spirits. Then Mr. William Burke.
  Soon after, Sir Joshua returned home. He paid his compliments to
  everybody, and then brought a chair next mine, and said:

  “‘So you were afraid to come among us?’

  “I don’t know if I wrote to you a speech to that purpose, which I made
  to the Miss Palmers? and which, I suppose, they had repeated to him.
  He went on, saying I might as well fear hobgoblins, and that I had
  only to hold up my head to be above them all.

  “After this address, his behaviour was exactly what my wishes would
  have dictated to him, for my own ease and quietness; for he never once
  even alluded to my book, but conversed rationally, gaily, and
  serenely: and so I became more comfortable than I had been ever since
  the first entrance of company....

  “Our confab was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. King; a gentleman
  who is, it seems, for ever with the Burkes; and presently Lord
  Palmerston[41] was announced.

  “Well, while this was going forward, a violent rapping bespoke, I was
  sure, Mrs. Cholmondeley, and I ran from the standers, and turning my
  back against the door, looked over Miss Palmer’s cards; for you may
  well imagine I was really in a tremor at a meeting which so long has
  been in agitation, and with the person who, of all persons, has been
  most warm and enthusiastic for my book.

  “She had not, however, been in the room half an instant, ere my father
  came up to me, and tapping me on the shoulder, said, ‘Fanny, here’s a
  lady who wishes to speak to you.’

  “I curtseyed in silence; she too curtseyed, and fixed her eyes full on
  my face, and then tapping me with her fan, she cried:

  “‘Come, come, you must not look grave upon me.’

  “Upon this, I te-he’d; she now looked at me yet more earnestly, and,
  after an odd silence, said, abruptly:

  “‘But is it true?’

  “‘What, ma’am?’

  “‘It can’t be!—tell me, though, is it true?’

  “I could only simper.

  “‘Why don’t you tell me?—but it can’t be—I don’t believe it!—no, you
  are an impostor!’

  “Sir Joshua and Lord Palmerston were both at her side—oh, how notably
  silly must I look! She again repeated her question of ‘Is it true?’
  and I again affected not to understand her; and then Sir Joshua,
  taking hold of her arm, attempted to pull her away, saying:

  “‘Come, come, Mrs. Cholmondeley, I won’t have her overpowered here!’

  “I love Sir Joshua much for this. But Mrs. Cholmondeley, turning to
  him, said, with quickness and vehemence:

  “‘Why, I ain’t going to kill her! don’t be afraid, I shan’t compliment
  her!—I can’t, indeed!’”

Then came a scene in which Mrs. Cholmondeley pursued Fanny across the
room, hunted her round the card-table, and finally drove her to take
refuge behind a sofa, continually plying her with questions, and
receiving her confused replies with exclamations of _Ma foi! pardie!_
and other phrases borrowed from Madame Duval. At length:

  “_Mrs. Chol._: My Lord Palmerston, I was told to-night that nobody
  could see your lordship for me, for that you supped at my house every
  night! Dear, bless me, no! cried I, not every night! and I looked as
  confused as I was able; but I am afraid I did not blush, though I
  tried hard for it!

  “Then again turning to me:

  “‘That Mr. What-d’ye-call-him, in Fleet Street, is a mighty silly
  fellow;—perhaps you don’t know who I mean?—one T. Lowndes,—but maybe
  you don’t know such a person?’

  “_F. B._: No, indeed, I do not!—that I can safely say.

  “_Mrs. Chol._: I could get nothing from him: but I told him I hoped he
  gave a good price: and he answered me, that he always did things
  genteel. What trouble and tagging we had! Mr. —— laid a wager the
  writer was a man:—I said I was sure it was a woman: but now we are
  both out; for it’s a girl!

  “In this comical, queer, flighty, whimsical manner she ran on, till we
  were summoned to supper....

  “When we broke up to depart, which was not till near two in the
  morning, Mrs. Cholmondeley went up to my mother, and begged her
  permission to visit in St. Martin’s Street. Then, as she left the
  room, she said to me, with a droll sort of threatening look:

  “‘You have not got rid of me yet: I have been forcing myself into your

  “I must own I was not at all displeased at this, as I had very much
  and very reasonably feared that she would have been by then as sick of
  me from disappointment, as she was before eager for me from curiosity.

  “When we came away, Offy Palmer, laughing, said to me:

  “‘I think this will be a breaking-in to you!’”

We have next a visit to the house of the persecutor:

  “On Monday last, my father sent a note to Mrs. Cholmondeley, to
  propose our waiting on her the Wednesday following: she accepted the
  proposal, and accordingly, on Wednesday evening, my father, mother,
  and self went to Hertford Street.

  “I should have told you that Mrs. Cholmondeley, when my father some
  time ago called on her, sent me a message, that if I would go to see
  her, I should not again be stared at or worried; and she acknowledged
  that my visit at Sir Joshua’s was a formidable one, and that I was
  watched the whole evening; but that upon the whole, the company
  behaved extremely well, for they only ogled!

  “Well, we were received by Mrs. Cholmondeley with great politeness,
  and in a manner that showed she intended to entirely throw aside
  Madame Duval, and to conduct herself towards me in a new style.

  “Mr. and the Misses Cholmondeley and Miss Forrest were with her; but
  who else think you?—why, Mrs. Sheridan! I was absolutely charmed at
  the sight of her. I think her quite as beautiful as ever, and even
  more captivating; for she has now a look of ease and happiness that
  animates her whole face.

  “Miss Linley was with her; she is very handsome, but nothing near her
  sister: the elegance of Mrs. Sheridan’s beauty is unequalled by any I
  ever saw, except Mrs. Crewe.[42] I was pleased with her in all
  respects. She is much more lively and agreeable than I had any idea of
  finding her: she was very gay, and very unaffected, and totally free
  from airs of any kind.

  “Miss Linley was very much out of spirits; she did not speak three
  words the whole evening, and looked wholly unmoved at all that passed.
  Indeed, she appeared to be heavy and inanimate.

  “Mrs. Cholmondeley sat next me. She is determined, I believe, to make
  me like her: and she will, I believe, have full success; for she is
  very clever, very entertaining, and very much unlike anybody else.

  “The first subject started was the Opera, and all joined in the praise
  of Pacchierotti. Mrs. Sheridan declared she could not hear him without
  tears, and that he was the first Italian singer who ever affected her
  to such a degree.

  “They then talked of the intended marriage of the Duke of Dorset with
  Miss Cumberland, and many ridiculous anecdotes were related. The
  conversation naturally fell upon Mr. Cumberland, and he was finely cut

  “‘What a man is that!’ said Mrs. Cholmondeley; ‘I cannot bear him—so
  querulous, so dissatisfied, so determined to like nobody and nothing
  but himself!’

  “‘What, Mr. Cumberland?’ exclaimed I.

  “‘Yes,’ answered she; ‘I hope you don’t like him?’

  “‘I don’t know him, ma’am. I have only seen him once, at Mrs. Ord’s.’

  “‘Oh, don’t like him for your life! I charge you not! I hope you did
  not like his looks?’

  “‘Why,’ quoth I, laughing, ‘I went prepared and determined to like
  him; but perhaps, when I see him next, I may go prepared for the

  “A rat-tat-tat-tat ensued, and the Earl of Harcourt was announced.
  When he had paid his compliments to Mrs. Cholmondeley—

  “‘I knew, ma’am,’ he said, ‘that I should find you at home.’

  “‘I suppose then, my lord,’ said she, ‘that you have seen Sir Joshua
  Reynolds; for he is engaged to be here.’

  “‘I have,’ answered his lordship; ‘and heard from him that I should be
  sure to find you.’

  “And then he added some very fine compliment, but I have forgot it.

  “‘Oh, my lord,’ cried she, ‘you have the most discernment of anybody!
  His lordship (turning another way) always says these things to me, and
  yet he never flatters.’

  “Lord Harcourt, speaking of the lady from whose house he was just
  come, said:

  “‘Mrs. Vesey[43] is vastly agreeable, but her fear of ceremony is
  really troublesome: for her eagerness to break a circle is such, that
  she insists upon everybody’s sitting with their backs one to another;
  that is, the chairs are drawn into little parties of three together,
  in a confused manner, all over the room.’

  “‘Why, then,’ said my father, ‘they may have the pleasure of caballing
  and cutting up one another, even in the same room.’

  “‘Oh, I like the notion of all things,’ cried Mrs. Cholmondeley; ‘I
  shall certainly adopt it!’

  “And then she drew her chair into the middle of our circle. Lord
  Harcourt turned his round, and his back to most of us, and my father
  did the same. You can’t imagine a more absurd sight.

  “Just then the door opened, and Mr. Sheridan entered.

  “Was I not in luck? Not that I believe the meeting was accidental; but
  I had more wished to meet him and his wife than any people I know not.

  “I could not endure my ridiculous situation, but replaced myself in an
  orderly manner immediately. Mr. Sheridan stared at them all, and Mrs.
  Cholmondeley said she intended it as a hint for a comedy.

  “Mr. Sheridan has a very fine figure, and a good, though I don’t think
  a handsome, face. He is tall, and very upright, and his appearance and
  address are at once manly and fashionable, without the smallest
  tincture of foppery or modish graces. In short, I like him vastly, and
  think him every way worthy his beautiful companion.

  “And let me tell you what I know will give you as much pleasure as it
  gave me—that, by all I could observe in the course of the evening, and
  we stayed very late, they are extremely happy in each other: he
  evidently adores her, and she as evidently idolizes him. The world has
  by no means done him justice.

  “When he had paid his compliments to all his acquaintance, he went
  behind the sofa on which Mrs. Sheridan and Miss Cholmondeley were
  seated, and entered into earnest conversation with them.

  “Upon Lord Harcourt’s again paying Mrs. Cholmondeley some compliment,
  she said:

  “‘Well, my lord, after this I shall be quite sublime for some days! I
  shan’t descend into common life till—till Saturday, and then I shall
  drop into the vulgar style—I shall be in the _ma foi_ way.

  “I do really believe she could not resist this, for she had seemed
  determined to be quiet.

  “When next there was a rat-tat, Mrs. Cholmondeley and Lord Harcourt,
  and my father again, at the command of the former, moved into the
  middle of the room, and then Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr. Warton

  “No further company came. You may imagine there was a general roar at
  the breaking of the circle, and when they got into order, Mr. Sheridan
  seated himself in the place Mrs. Cholmondeley had left, between my
  father and myself.

  “And now I must tell you a little conversation which I did not hear
  myself till I came home; it was between Mr. Sheridan and my father.

  “‘Dr. Burney,’ cried the former, ‘have you no older daughters? Can
  this possibly be the authoress of ‘Evelina’?’

  “And then he said abundance of fine things, and begged my father to
  introduce him to me.

  “‘Why, it will be a very formidable thing to her,’ answered he, ‘to be
  introduced to you.’

  “‘Well, then, by-and-by,’ returned he.

  “Some time after this, my eyes happening to meet his, he waived the
  ceremony of introduction, and in a low voice said:

  “‘I have been telling Dr. Burney that I have long expected to see in
  Miss Burney a lady of the gravest appearance, with the quickest

  “I was never much more astonished than at this unexpected address, as
  among all my numerous puffers the name of Sheridan has never reached
  me, and I did really imagine he had never deigned to look at my trash.

  “Of course I could make no verbal answer, and he proceeded then to
  speak of ‘Evelina’ in terms of the highest praise; but I was in such a
  ferment from surprise (not to say pleasure), that I have no
  recollection of his expressions. I only remember telling him that I
  was much amazed he had spared time to read it, and that he repeatedly
  called it a most surprising book; and some time after he added: ‘But I
  hope, Miss Burney, you don’t intend to throw away your pen?’

  “‘You should take care, sir,’ said I, ‘what you say: for you know not
  what weight it may have.’

  “He wished it might have any, he said; and soon after turned again to
  my father.

  “I protest, since the approbation of the Streathamites, I have met
  with none so flattering to me as this of Mr. Sheridan, and so very

  “Some time after, Sir Joshua returning to his standing-place, entered
  into confab with Miss Linley and your slave, upon various matters,
  during which Mr. Sheridan, joining us, said:

  “‘Sir Joshua, I have been telling Miss Burney that she must not suffer
  her pen to lie idle—ought she?’

  “_Sir Joshua_: No, indeed, ought she not.

  “_Mr. Sheridan_: Do you then, Sir Joshua, persuade her. But perhaps
  you have begun something? May we ask? Will you answer a question

  “_F. B._: I don’t know, but as candidly as _Mrs. Candour_ I think I
  certainly shall.

  “_Mr. Sheridan_: What then are you about now?

  “_F. B._: Why, twirling my fan, I think!

  “_Mr. Sheridan_: No, no; but what are you about at home? However, it
  is not a fair question, so I won’t press it.

  “Yet he looked very inquisitive; but I was glad to get off without any
  downright answer.

  “_Sir Joshua_: Anything in the dialogue way, I think, she must succeed
  in; and I am sure invention will not be wanting.

  “_Mr. Sheridan_: No, indeed; I think, and say, she should write a

  “_Sir Joshua_: I am sure I think so; and hope she will.

  “I could only answer by incredulous exclamations.

  “‘Consider,’ continued Sir Joshua, ‘you have already had all the
  applause and fame you can have given you in the closet; but the
  acclamation of a theatre will be new to you.’

  “And then he put down his trumpet, and began a violent clapping of his

  “I actually shook from head to foot! I felt myself already in Drury
  Lane, amidst the hubbub of a first night.

  “‘Oh no!’ cried I; ‘there may be a noise, but it will be just the
  reverse.’ And I returned his salute with a hissing.

  “Mr. Sheridan joined Sir Joshua very warmly.

  “‘Oh, sir!’ cried I; ‘you should not run on so—you don’t know what
  mischief you may do!’

  “_Mr. Sheridan_: I wish I may—I shall be very glad to be accessory.”

We gather from the remarks made by Mrs. Cholmondeley and Sheridan in the
preceding extracts that Miss Burney at this time looked much younger
than she really was. With her low stature, slight figure, and timid air,
she did not seem quite the woman. Probably this youthful appearance may
have helped to set afloat the rumour which confounded the age of her
heroine with her own. An unmarried lady of six-and-twenty could hardly
be expected to enter a formal plea of not guilty to the charge of being
only a girl; yet we shall see presently that Mrs. Thrale was pretty well
informed as to the number of Fanny’s years.

Some readers may be tempted to think that, with all her coyness, she was
enraptured by the pursuit of her admirers. This is only to say that she
was a woman. We must remember, moreover, that the Diary which betrays
her feelings was not written with any design of publication, but
consisted of private letters, addressed chiefly to her sister Susan, and
intended to be shown to no one out of her own family, save her attached
Daddy Crisp. ‘If,’ says Macaulay very fairly, ‘she recorded with minute
diligence all the compliments, delicate and coarse, which she heard
wherever she turned, she recorded them for the eyes of two or three
persons who had loved her from infancy, who had loved her in obscurity,
and to whom her fame gave the purest and most exquisite delight. Nothing
can be more unjust than to confound these outpourings of a kind heart,
sure of perfect sympathy, with the egotism of a blue stocking, who
prates to all who come near her about her own novel or her own volume of


Footnote 31:

  ‘There was no want of low minds and bad hearts in the generation which
  witnessed her first appearance. There was the envious Kenrick and the
  savage Wolcot, the asp George Steevens and the polecat John Williams.
  It did not, however, occur to them to search the parish register of
  Lynn, in order that they might be able to twit a lady with having
  concealed her age. That truly chivalrous exploit was reserved for a
  bad writer of our own time, whose spite she had provoked by not
  furnishing him with materials for a worthless edition of Boswell’s
  Life of Johnson, some sheets of which our readers have doubtless seen
  round parcels of better books.’—_Macaulay’s Essay._ This passage has
  been often quoted and admired. Yet is not such writing rather too much
  in the style of Mr. Bludyer, who, the reader will remember, was
  reproached with mangling his victims? Compare Macaulay’s swashing blow
  with the deadly thrust of a true master of sarcasm. ‘Nobody was
  stronger in dates than Mr. Rigby; ... detail was Mr. Rigby’s forte;
  ... _it was thought no one could lash a woman like Rigby_. Rigby’s
  statements were arranged with a formidable array of dates—rarely

Footnote 32:

  The first edition consisted of 800 copies, the second of 500, the
  third of 1,000. A fourth edition, the extent of which was not
  divulged, followed in the autumn. After the third edition, Lowndes
  paid the author a further sum of ten pounds in full satisfaction of
  any claim or expectation which she or her friends might found on the
  continued success of the book.

Footnote 33:

  Mr. Crisp to Miss Burney, January, 1779: “Do you remember, about a
  dozen years ago, how you used to dance ‘Nancy Dawson’ on the
  grass-plot, with your cap on the ground, and your long hair streaming
  down your back, one shoe off, and throwing about your head like a mad

Footnote 34:

  The sea-captain in ‘Evelina.’

Footnote 35:

  Diary, i., p. 18; Memoirs, ii., p. 149.

Footnote 36:

  Lockhart’s ‘Life of Scott.’ vi., p. 388. There seems to be some
  trifling discrepancy between the different accounts, both as to the
  date and the exact occasion of this incident.

Footnote 37:

  ‘I have this to comfort me: that, the more I see of sea-captains, the
  less reason I have to be ashamed of Captain Mirvan; for they have all
  so irresistible a propensity to wanton mischief, to roasting beaux and
  detesting old women, that I quite rejoice I showed the book to no one
  ere printed, lest I should have been prevailed upon to soften his
  character.’—Diary, May 28, 1780.

Footnote 38:

    Suspirius the Screech Owl. See ‘Rambler’ for Tuesday, October 9,

Footnote 39:

  She was then building her famous house in Portman Square.

Footnote 40:

    Mrs. Horneck was the wife of General Horneck. Her two daughters,
    Mrs. Bunbury and Miss Horneck (afterwards Mrs. Gwynn), were
    celebrated beauties, and their portraits rank among the best
    productions of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s pencil. Mary Horneck was
    Goldsmith’s Jessamy Bride, and became the wife of one of George
    III.’s equerries; her sister married Harry Bunbury, ‘the graceful
    and humorous amateur artist,’ as Thackeray calls him, ‘of those
    days, when Gilray had but just begun to try his powers.’

Footnote 41:

    Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, father of the Prime

Footnote 42:

    Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Greville; afterwards Lady Crewe.

Footnote 43:

    Well known as the founder of the _bas bleu_ meetings, and the author
    of the name. Mr. Edward Stillingfleet, a writer on natural history,
    who was one of her favourite guests, always wore blue stockings, and
    a phrase used by her, ‘Come in your blue stockings,’ or ‘We can do
    nothing without the blue stockings,’ caused the _bas bleu_ to be
    adopted as the symbol of her literary parties.


                              CHAPTER IV.

Return to Streatham—Murphy the Dramatist—A Proposed Comedy—‘The
  Witlings’—Adverse Judgment of Mr. Crisp and Dr. Burney—Fanny to Mr.
  Crisp—Dr. Johnson on Miss Burney—A Visit to Brighton—Cumberland—An
  Eccentric Character—Sir Joshua’s Prices—Tragedies—Actors and Singers—
  Regrets for the Comedy—Crisp’s Reply—The Lawrence Family at Devizes—
  Lady Miller’s Vase—The Gordon Riots—Precipitate Retreat—Grub Street—
  Sudden Death of Mr. Thrale—Idleness and Work—A Sister of the Craft—The
  Mausoleum of Julia—Progress of ‘Cecilia’ through the Press—Crisp’s
  Judgment on ‘Cecilia’—Johnson and ‘Cecilia’—Publication of ‘Cecilia’—
  Burke—His Letter to Miss Burney—Assembly at Miss Monckton’s—New
  Acquaintances—Soame Jenyns—Illness and Death of Crisp—Mrs. Thrale’s
  Struggles—Ill-health of Johnson—Mr. Burney Organist of Chelsea
  Hospital—Mrs. Thrale marries Piozzi—Last Interview with Johnson—His

In February, 1779, Miss Burney returned to Streatham. A bedroom was set
apart for her exclusive use. She became almost as much a recognised
member of the family as Dr. Johnson had for many years been. Nearly all
the remainder of 1779 was spent with her new friends, either at
Streatham, Tunbridge Wells, or Brighton. Her father could scarcely
regain possession of her, even for a few days, without a friendly
battle. Johnson always took the side of the resisting party. In one of
these contests, when Burney urged that she had been away from home too
long: ‘Sir,’ cried Johnson, seizing both her hands to detain her, ‘I do
not think it long; I would have her _always_ come! and _never_ go!’ In
February, the first new face she saw at Mrs. Thrale’s was that of Arthur
Murphy,[44] playwright and translator of Tacitus. Mrs. Thrale charged
her to make herself agreeable to this gentleman, whose knowledge of the
stage might be of service to her in relation to the comedy which her
friends were urging her to write. The exhortation was unneeded, for
almost the first words uttered by Murphy in her presence won Fanny’s
heart. Mrs. Thrale, missing Dr. Burney, who after his weekly lesson had
returned to town without taking leave, inveighed against him as a male
coquet: he only, she said, gave enough of his company to excite a desire
for more. Murphy was ready with his compliment.

‘Dr. Burney,’ he replied, ‘is indeed a most extraordinary man; I think I
don’t know such another: he is at home upon all subjects, and upon all
so agreeable! he is a wonderful man.’

Noting down this pretty speech led the diarist to record some words
which had passed between Johnson and herself on the same theme:

  “‘I love Burney,’ said the Doctor; ‘my heart goes out to meet him.’

  “‘He is not ungrateful, sir,’ cried I: ‘for most heartily does he love

  “‘Does he, madam? I am surprised at that.’

  “‘Why, sir? Why should you have doubted it?’

  “‘Because, madam, Dr. Burney is a man for all the world to love; it is
  but natural to love _him_.’

  “I could almost have cried with delight at this cordial, unlaboured

An admirer of her father was a man whom Fanny could trust at once, and
she soon had confidences with Murphy, as well as with Johnson, on the
subject of her projected play. In May, the first draft was submitted to
the former, who bestowed on it abundance of flattery. Mrs. Thrale also
was warm in its praise. But the piece, when finished, had to be
submitted to critics who felt a deeper interest, and a stronger sense of
responsibility. The manuscript was carried by Dr. Burney to Crisp at
Chesington, and the two old friends sat in council on it. “I should
like,” wrote Fanny to Crisp, “that your first reading should have
nothing to do with me—that you should go quick through it, or let my
father read it to you—forgetting all the time, as much as you can, that
Fannikin is the writer, or even that it is a play in manuscript, and
capable of alterations;—and, then, when you have done, I should like to
have three lines, telling me, as nearly as you can trust my candour, its
general effect. After that take it to your own desk, and lash it at your
leisure. Adieu, my dear daddy! I shall hope to hear from you very soon,
and pray believe me yours ever and ever.”

The comedy was intended to be called ‘The Witlings,’ and seems to have
borne a strong resemblance to the _Femmes Savantes_. We have not the
letter containing Crisp’s judgment, but he told his disciple plainly
that her production would be condemned as a pale copy of Molière’s
piece. We gather also from subsequent correspondence that both he and
Dr. Burney felt ‘The Witlings,’ to be a failure, even when considered on
its own merits. It was some consolation to Fanny that she had never read
Molière, but she sought no saving for her self-love. Here is her answer
to her daddy:

  “Well! ‘there are plays that are to be saved, and plays that are not
  to be saved!’ so good-night, Mr. Dabbler!—good-night, Lady Smatter,—
  Mrs. Sapient,—Mrs. Voluble,—Mrs. Wheedle,—Censor,—Cecilia,—Beaufort,—
  and you, you great oaf, Bobby!—good-night! good-night!

  And good-morning, Miss Fanny Burney!—I hope now you have opened your
  eyes for some time, and will not close them in so drowsy a fit again—
  at least till the full of the moon.

  I won’t tell you I have been absolutely _ravie_ with delight at the
  fall of the curtain; but I intend to take the affair in the _tant
  mieux_ manner, and to console myself for your censure by this greatest
  proof I have ever received of the sincerity, candour, and, let me add,
  esteem, of my dear daddy. And as I happen to love myself rather more
  than my play, this consolation is not a very trifling one.

  As to all you say of my reputation and so forth, I perceive the
  kindness of your endeavours to put me in humour with myself, and
  prevent my taking huff, which if I did, I should deserve to receive,
  upon any future trial, hollow praise from you—and the rest from the

  As to the MS., I am in no hurry for it. Besides, it ought not to come
  till I have prepared an ovation, and the honours of conquest for it.

  The only bad thing in this affair is, that I cannot take the comfort
  of my poor friend Dabbler, by calling you a crabbed fellow, because
  you write with almost more kindness than ever; neither can I (though I
  try hard) persuade myself that you have not a grain of taste in your
  whole composition.

  This, however, seriously I do believe,—that when my two daddies put
  their heads together to concert for me that hissing, groaning,
  catcalling epistle they sent me they felt as sorry for poor little
  Miss Bayes as she could possibly do for herself.

  You see I do not attempt to repay your frankness with the art of
  pretended carelessness. But though somewhat disconcerted just now, I
  will promise not to let my vexation live out another day. I shall not
  browse upon it, but, on the contrary, drive it out of my thoughts, by
  filling them up with things almost as good of other people’s.

  Our Hettina is much better; but pray don’t keep Mr. B. beyond
  Wednesday, for Mrs. Thrale makes a point of my returning to Streatham
  on Tuesday, unless, which God forbid, poor Hetty should be worse

  Adieu, my dear daddy, I won’t be mortified, and I won’t be _downed_,—
  but I will be proud to find I have, out of my own family, as well as
  in it, a friend who loves me well enough to speak plain truth to me.

  Always do thus, and always you shall be tried by,

                                            Your much obliged
                                                  And most affectionate,
                                                        FRANCES BURNEY.”

The manuscript comedy does not appear to have been shown to Dr. Johnson.
This was not for want of encouragement. He was extremely willing to read
it, or have it read to him, but desired that his opinion should be taken
before that of Murphy, who was to judge of the stage effect, and as the
latter had already offered his services, the scrupulous author felt that
this could not be. Fanny continued to grow in favour with Johnson. His
expressions of affection became stronger, his eulogy of her novel more

“I know,” he said on one occasion, “none like her, nor do I believe
there is, or there ever was, a _man_ who could write such a book so

“I suppose,” said Mrs. Thrale, “Pope was no older than Miss Burney when
he wrote ‘Windsor Forest;’[45] and I suppose ‘Windsor Forest’ is equal
to ‘Evelina!’”

‘Windsor Forest,’ though, according to Pope himself, it was in part
written at the age of sixteen, was finished and published when the poet
was twenty-five. But Johnson would by no means allow that ‘Windsor
Forest’ was so remarkable a work as ‘Evelina.’ The latter, he said,
seemed a work that should result from long experience and deep and
intimate knowledge of the world; yet it had been written without either.

“Miss Burney,” added the sage, “is a real wonder. What she is, she is
intuitively. Dr. Burney told me she had had the fewest advantages of any
of his daughters, from some peculiar circumstances. And such has been
her timidity, that he himself had not any suspicion of her powers.”

About this time, Johnson began teaching his favourite Latin, an
attention with which she would gladly have dispensed, thinking it an
injury to be considered a learned lady.

In the autumn of this year, Miss Burney accompanied the Thrales to
Tunbridge Wells, and thence to Brighton. Her Diary contains some lively
sketches of incidents on the Pantiles and the Steyne, for which we
cannot find space. At Brighton she encountered Sir Fretful Plagiary:

  “‘It has been,’ said Mrs. Thrale warmly, ‘all I could do not to
  affront Mr. Cumberland to-night!’

  “‘Oh, I hope not!’ cried I; ‘I would not have you for the world!’

  “‘Why, I have refrained; but with great difficulty!’

  “And then she told me the conversation she had just had with him. As
  soon as I made off, he said, with a spiteful tone of voice:

  “‘Oh, that young lady is an author, I hear!’

  “‘Yes,’ answered Mrs. Thrale, ‘author of Evelina!’

  “‘Humph—I am told it has some humour!’

  “‘Ay, indeed! Johnson says nothing like it has appeared for years!’

  “‘So,’ cried he, biting his lips, and waving uneasily in his chair,
  ‘so, so!’

  “‘Yes,’ continued she; ‘and Sir Joshua Reynolds told Mr. Thrale he
  would give fifty pounds to know the author!’

  “‘So, so—oh, vastly well!’ cried he, putting his hand on his forehead.

  “‘Nay,’ added she, ‘Burke himself sat up all night to finish it!’

  “This seemed quite too much for him; he put both his hands to his
  face, and waving backwards and forwards, said:

  “‘Oh, vastly well!—this will do for anything!’ with a tone as much as
  to say, Pray, no more! Then Mrs. Thrale bid him good-night, longing,
  she said, to call Miss Thrale first, and say, ‘So you won’t speak to
  my daughter?—why, she is no author!’”

At another time, Mrs. Thrale said:

“Let him be tormented, if such things can torment him. For my part I’d
have a starling taught to halloo ‘Evelina’!”

At Brighton, also, Miss Burney met with one of those humorous characters
which her pen loved to describe:

  “I must now have the honour to present to you a new acquaintance, who
  this day dined here-Mr. B——-y, an Irish gentleman, late a commissary
  in Germany. He is between sixty and seventy, but means to pass for
  about thirty; gallant, complaisant, obsequious, and humble to the fair
  sex, for whom he has an awful reverence; but when not immediately
  addressing them, swaggering, blustering, puffing, and domineering.
  These are his two apparent characters; but the real man is worthy,
  moral, religious, though conceited and parading.

  “He is as fond of quotations as my poor ‘_Lady Smatter_,’ and, like
  her, knows little beyond a song, and always blunders about the author
  of that.... His whole conversation consists in little French phrases,
  picked up during his residence abroad, and in anecdotes and
  storytelling, which are sure to be re-told daily and daily in the same

  “Speaking of the ball in the evening, to which we were all going, ‘Ah,
  madam!’ said he to Mrs. Thrale, ‘there was a time when—tol-de-rol,
  tol-de-rol [rising, and dancing and singing], tol-de-rol!—I could
  dance with the best of them; but, now a man, forty and upwards, as my
  Lord Ligonier used to say—but—tol-de-rol!—there was a time!’

  “‘Ay, so there was, Mr. B——y,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘and I think you and
  I together made a very venerable appearance!’

  “‘Ah! madam, I remember once, at Bath, I was called out to dance with
  one of the finest young ladies I ever saw. I was just preparing to do
  my best, when a gentleman of my acquaintance was so cruel as to
  whisper me—’B——y! the eyes of all Europe are upon you!‘—for that was
  the phrase of the times. ‘B——y!’ says he, ’the eyes of all Europe are
  upon you!‘—I vow, ma’am, enough to make a man tremble!—tol-de-rol,
  tol-de-rol! [dancing]—the eyes of all Europe are upon you!—I declare,
  ma’am, enough to put a man out of countenance!”

  “Dr. Delap, who came here some time after, was speaking of Horace.

  “‘Ah! madam,’ cried Mr. B——y, ‘this Latin—things of that kind—we waste
  our youth, ma’am, in these vain studies. For my part, I wish I had
  spent mine in studying French and Spanish—more useful, ma’am. But,
  bless me, ma’am, what time have I had for that kind of thing?
  Travelling here, over the ocean, hills and dales, ma’am—reading the
  great book of the world—poor ignorant mortals, ma’am—no time to do

  “‘Ay, Mr. B——y,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘I remember how you downed
  Beauclerk and Hamilton, the wits, once at our house, when they talked
  of ghosts!’

  “‘Ah! ma’am, give me a brace of pistols, and I warrant I’ll manage a
  ghost for you! Not but Providence may please to send little spirits—
  guardian angels, ma’am—to watch us: that I can’t speak about. It would
  be presumptuous, ma’am—for what can a poor, ignorant mortal know?’

  “‘Ay, so you told Beauclerk and Hamilton.’

  “‘Oh yes, ma’am. Poor human beings can’t account for anything—and call
  themselves _esprits forts_. I vow ’tis presumptuous, ma’am! _Esprits
  forts_, indeed! they can see no farther than their noses, poor,
  ignorant mortals! Here’s an admiral, and here’s a prince, and here’s a
  general, and here’s a dipper—and poor Smoker, the bather, ma’am!
  What’s all this strutting about, and that kind of thing? and then they
  can’t account for a blade of grass!’

  “After this, Dr. Johnson being mentioned,

  “‘Ay,’ said he, ‘I’m sorry he did not come down with you. I liked him
  better than those others: not much of a fine gentleman, indeed, but a
  clever fellow—a deal of knowledge—got a deuced good understanding!’...

  “I am absolutely almost ill with laughing. This Mr. B——y half
  convulses me; yet I cannot make you laugh by writing his speeches,
  because it is the manner which accompanies them that, more than the
  matter, renders them so peculiarly ridiculous. His extreme pomposity,
  the solemn stiffness of his person, the conceited twinkling of his
  little old eyes, and the quaint importance of his delivery, are so
  much more like some pragmatical old coxcomb represented on the stage,
  than like anything in real and common life, that I think, were I a
  man, I should sometimes be betrayed into clapping him for acting so
  well. As it is, I am sure no character in any comedy I ever saw has
  made me laugh more extravagantly.

  “He dines and spends the evening here constantly, to my great

  “At dinner, when Mrs. Thrale offers him a seat next her, he regularly

  “‘But where are _les charmantes_?’ meaning Miss T. and me. ‘I can do
  nothing till they are accommodated!’

  “And, whenever he drinks a glass of wine, he never fails to touch
  either Mrs. Thrale’s or my glass, with ‘_est-il-permis?_’

  “But at the same time that he is so courteous, he is proud to a most
  sublime excess, and thinks every person to whom he speaks honoured
  beyond measure by his notice,—nay, he does not even look at anybody
  without evidently displaying that such notice is more the effect of
  his benign condescension, than of any pretension on their part to
  deserve such a mark of his perceiving their existence. But you will
  think me mad about this man....

  “As he is notorious for his contempt of all artists, whom he looks
  upon with little more respect than upon day-labourers, the other day,
  when painting was discussed, he spoke of Sir Joshua Reynolds as if he
  had been upon a level with a carpenter or farrier.

  “‘Did you ever,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘see his Nativity?’

  “‘No, madam,—but I know his pictures very well; I knew him many years
  ago, in Minorca; he drew my picture there, and then he knew how to
  take a moderate price; but now, I vow, ma’am, ’tis scandalous—
  scandalous indeed! to pay a fellow here seventy guineas for scratching
  out a head!’

  “‘Sir!’ cried Dr. Delap,[46] ‘you must not run down Sir Joshua
  Reynolds, because he is Miss Burney’s friend.’

  “‘Sir,’ answered he, ‘I don’t want to run the man down; I like him
  well enough in his proper place; he is as decent as any man of that
  sort I ever knew; but for all that, sir, his prices are shameful. Why,
  he would not [_looking at the poor Doctor with an enraged contempt_]—
  he would not do _your_ head under seventy guineas!’

  “‘Well,’ said Mrs. Thrale, ‘he had one portrait at the last
  Exhibition, that I think hardly could be paid enough for; it was of a
  Mr. Stuart; I had never done admiring it.’

  “‘What stuff is this, ma’am!’ cried Mr. B——y; ‘how can two or three
  dabs of paint ever be worth such a sum as that?’

  “‘Sir,’ said Mr. Selwyn (always willing to draw him out), ‘you know
  not how much he is improved since you knew him in Minorca; he is now
  the finest painter, perhaps, in the world.’

  “‘Pho, pho, sir!’ cried he, ‘how can you talk so? you, Mr. Selwyn, who
  have seen so many capital pictures abroad?’

  “‘Come, come, sir,’ said the ever odd Dr. Delap, ‘you must not go on
  so undervaluing him, for, I tell you, he is a friend of Miss

  “‘Sir,’ said Mr. B——y, ‘I tell you again I have no objection to the
  man; I have dined in his company two or three times; a very decent man
  he is, fit to keep company with gentlemen; but, ma’am, what are all
  your modern dabblers put together to one ancient? Nothing!—a set of—
  not a Rubens among them! I vow, ma’am, not a Rubens among them!’...

  “Whenever plays are mentioned, we have also a regular speech about

  “‘I never,’ he says, ‘go to a tragedy,—it’s too affecting; tragedy
  enough in real life: tragedies are only fit for fair females; for my
  part, I cannot bear to see Othello tearing about in that violent
  manner;—and fair little Desdemona—ma’am, ’tis too affecting! to see
  your kings and your princes tearing their pretty locks,—oh, there’s no
  standing it! ‘A straw-crown’d monarch,’—what is that, Mrs. Thrale?

                ‘A straw-crown’d monarch in mock majesty.’

  I can’t recollect now where that is; but for my part, I really cannot
  bear to see such sights. And then out come the white handkerchiefs,
  and all their pretty eyes are wiping, and then come poison and
  daggers, and all that kind of thing,—Oh, ma’am, ’tis too much; but yet
  the fair tender hearts, the pretty little females, all like it!’

  “This speech, word for word, I have already heard from him literally
  four times.

  “When Mr. Garrick was mentioned, he honoured him with much the same
  style of compliment as he had done Sir Joshua Reynolds.

  “‘Ay, ay,’ said he, ‘that Garrick is another of those fellows that
  people run mad about. Ma’am, ’tis a shame to think of such things! an
  actor living like a person of quality! scandalous! I vow, scandalous!’

  “‘Well,—commend me to Mr. B——y!’ cried Mrs. Thrale, ‘for he is your
  only man to put down all the people that everybody else sets up.’

  “‘Why, ma’am,’ answered he, ‘I like all these people very well in
  their proper places; but to see such a set of poor beings living like
  persons of quality,—’tis preposterous! common sense, madam, common
  sense is against that kind of thing. As to Garrick, he is a very good
  mimic, an entertaining fellow enough, and all that kind of thing; but
  for an actor to live like a person of quality—oh, scandalous!’

  “Some time after, the musical tribe was mentioned. He was at cards at
  the time with Mr. Selwyn, Dr. Delap, and Mr. Thrale, while we ‘fair
  females,’ as he always calls us, were speaking of Agujari. He
  constrained himself from flying out as long as he was able; but upon
  our mentioning her having fifty pounds a song, he suddenly, in a great
  rage, called out, ‘Catgut and rosin!—ma’am, ’tis scandalous!’

  “We all laughed, and Mr. Selwyn, to provoke him on, said:

  “‘Why, sir, how shall we part with our money better?’

  “‘Oh fie! fie!’ cried he, ‘I have not patience to hear of such folly;
  common sense, sir, common sense is against it. Why, now, there was one
  of these fellows at Bath last season, a Mr. Rauzzini,[47]—I vow I
  longed to cane him every day! such a work made with him! all the fair
  females sighing for him! enough to make a man sick!’”

At the beginning of 1780, Miss Burney was troubled about her suppressed
comedy. She wrote to Mr. Crisp:

  “As my play was settled, I entreated my father to call on Mr.
  Sheridan, in order to prevent his expecting anything from me, as he
  had had a good right to do, from my having sent him a positive message
  that I should, in compliance with his exhortations at Mrs.
  Cholmondeley’s, try my fortune in the theatrical line, and send him a
  piece for this winter. My father did call, but found him not at home,
  neither did he happen to see him till about Christmas. He then
  acquainted him that what I had written had entirely dissatisfied me,
  and that I desired to decline for the present all attempts of that

  “Mr. Sheridan was pleased to express great concern,—nay, more, to
  protest he would not accept my refusal. He begged my father to tell me
  that he could take no denial to seeing what I had done—that I could be
  no fair judge for myself—that he doubted not but what it would please,
  but was glad I was not satisfied, as he had much rather see pieces
  before their authors were contented with them than afterwards, on
  account of sundry small changes always necessary to be made by the
  managers, for theatrical purposes, and to which they were loth to
  submit when their writings were finished to their own approbation. In
  short, he said so much, that my father, ever easy to be worked upon,
  began to waver, and told me he wished I would show the play to
  Sheridan at once.”

As the result of this, Fanny conceived a plan for revising and altering
her piece, which she submitted to her daddy. Crisp answered:

“The play has wit enough and enough—but the story and the incidents
don’t appear to me interesting enough to seize and keep hold of the
attention and eager expectations of the generality of audiences. This,
to me, is its capital defect.” He went on to suggest that this fault,
being fundamental, admitted of no remedy. And then in reference to a
proposed trip to Italy, he added: “They tell me of a delightful tour you
are to make this autumn on the other side of the water, with Mr. and
Mrs. Thrale, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Murphy, etc. Where will you find such
another set? Oh, Fanny, set this down as the happiest period of your
life; and when you come to be old and sick, and health and spirits are
fled (for the time may come), then live upon remembrance, and think that
you have had your share of the good things of this world, and say: For
what I have received, the Lord make me thankful!”

The autumnal trip to the Continent did not take place, but in April the
Thrales and Miss Burney went by easy stages to Bath:

  “The third day we reached Devizes.

  “And here, Mrs. Thrale and I were much pleased with our hostess, Mrs.
  Lawrence, who seemed something above her station in her inn. While we
  were at cards before supper, we were much surprised by the sound of a
  piano-forte. I jumped up, and ran to listen whence it proceeded. I
  found it came from the next room, where the overture to the ‘Buona
  Figliuola’ was performing. The playing was very decent, but as the
  music was not quite new to me, my curiosity was not whole ages in
  satisfying itself, and therefore I returned to finish the rubber.

  “Don’t I begin to talk in an old-cattish manner of cards?

  “Well, another deal was hardly played, ere we heard the sound of a
  voice, and out I ran again. The singing, however, detained me not
  long, and so back I whisked: but the performance, however indifferent
  in itself, yet surprised us at the Bear at Devizes, and, therefore,
  Mrs. Thrale determined to know from whom it came. Accordingly, she
  tapped at the door. A very handsome girl, about thirteen years old,
  with fine dark hair upon a finely-formed forehead, opened it. Mrs.
  Thrale made an apology for her intrusion, but the poor girl blushed
  and retreated into a corner of the room: another girl, however,
  advanced, and obligingly and gracefully invited us in, and gave us all
  chairs. She was just sixteen, extremely pretty, and with a countenance
  better than her features, though those were also very good. Mrs.
  Thrale made her many compliments, which she received with a mingled
  modesty and pleasure, both becoming and interesting. She was, indeed,
  a sweetly-pleasing girl.

  “We found they were both daughters of our hostess, and born and bred
  at Devizes. We were extremely pleased with them, and made them a long
  visit, which I wished to have been longer. But though those pretty
  girls struck us so much, the wonder of the family was yet to be
  produced. This was their brother, a most lovely boy of ten years of
  age, who seems to be not merely the wonder of their family, but of the
  times, for his astonishing skill in drawing.[48] They protest he has
  never had any instruction, yet showed us some of his productions that
  were really beautiful. Those that were copies were delightful—those of
  his own composition amazing, though far inferior. I was equally struck
  with the boy and his works.

  “We found that he had been taken to town, and that all the painters
  had been very kind to him, and Sir Joshua Reynolds had pronounced him,
  the mother said, the most promising genius he had ever met with. Mr.
  Hoare[49] has been so charmed with this sweet boy’s drawings that he
  intends sending him to Italy with his own son.

  “This house was full of books, as well as paintings, drawings, and
  music; and all the family seem not only ingenious and industrious, but
  amiable; added to which, they are strikingly handsome.”

A chief topic of conversation at this time in Bath was Lady Miller’s
vase at Batheaston. Horace Walpole mentions this vase, and the use to
which it was put: ‘They hold a Parnassus-fair every Thursday, give out
rhymes and themes, and all the flux at Bath contend for the prizes. A
Roman vase, dressed with pink ribbons and myrtles, receives the poetry,
which is drawn out every festival. Six judges of these Olympic games
retire, and select the brightest composition.’ Fanny met Lady Miller,
whom she describes with her usual candour: ‘Lady Miller is a round,
plump, coarse-looking dame of about forty, and while all her aim is to
appear an elegant woman of fashion, all her success is to seem an
ordinary woman in very common life, with fine clothes on. Her habits are
bustling, her air is mock-important, and her manners very inelegant.’ In
the midst of a round of gaieties, the Thrale party attended a reception
at Batheaston. The rooms were crowded; but it being now June, the
business of the vase was over for that season, and the sacred vessel
itself had been removed. On returning to their lodging, they received
the news of the Gordon Riots. Next morning Mrs. Thrale had letters
acquainting her that her town-house had been three times attacked, but
saved by the Guards, with the children, plate, and valuables, which were
removed. Streatham had also been threatened and emptied of all its
furniture. The same day a Bath newspaper denounced Mr. Thrale as a
papist. The brewer was now in a critical state of health, and it became
necessary to remove him without exciting his alarm. Miss Burney was
employed to break the matter to him, and obtained his consent to an
immediate departure. Arriving at Salisbury on the 11th of June, they
were reassured by information that order had been restored in London,
and Lord George Gordon sent to the Tower. In London the friends parted,
and Fanny returned to her father’s house. Johnson met her at Sir
Joshua’s a few days after, and mention being made of a house in Grub
Street that had been destroyed by the mob, proposed that they should go
there together, and visit the seats of their progenitors.

The latter part of this year, and part of 1781, were spent by Miss
Burney chiefly in writing ‘Cecilia.’ While thus occupied she passed most
of her time at Chesington. In February, 1781, she writes from that place
to Mrs. Thrale: “I think I shall always hate this book, which has kept
me so long away from you, as much as I shall always love ‘Evelina,’
which first _comfortably_ introduced me to you.” Shortly after the date
of this letter, the writer returned home, apparently for the purpose of
meeting the Thrales, who were fixed for the winter in Grosvenor Square.
She found them engaged in giving parties to half London. In the midst of
their entertainments Mr. Thrale died suddenly from a stroke of apoplexy.
Fanny could not desert her friend in such trouble. So soon as the widow
could bear any society, she summoned her young companion to Streatham,
and kept her there, with hardly an interval, till the summer was over.
It does not appear that Fanny was at all averse to be detained, but so
long a stay was not to her advantage. Her hostess, of course, was much
engrossed by the late brewer’s affairs. Dr. Johnson, as one of the
executors, was similarly employed; and though Miss Burney, from time to
time, saw something of him, as well as of his co-executors, Mr.
Cator[50] and Mr. Crutchley,[51] she met with little in the narrowed and
secluded household to compensate her for her loss of time. If she busied
herself at all with ‘Cecilia’ during this period, she seems to have
accomplished very little. At any rate, both her fathers became impatient
of her inaction. Prompted from Chesington, Dr. Burney would have
recalled his daughter, but found himself powerless against the
self-willed little lady of Thrale Hall. The more resolute Crisp then
took the field in person,[52] and in spite of his infirmities, repaired
to Streatham, whence he carried off the captive authoress, and
straightway consigned her to what he called the Doctor’s Conjuring
Closet, at his own abode. There Fanny was held to her task till the
beginning of 1782, when she was called home to be present at the
marriage of her sister Susan to Captain Phillips; after which Dr. Burney
kept her stationary in St. Martin’s Street till she had written the word
‘Finis’ on the last proof-sheet of ‘Cecilia.’

However, when the new novel was fairly in the printer’s hands, the
author was again seen in London society. At a party, given by a Mrs.
Paradise, she was introduced to a sister of her craft:

  “Mrs. Paradise, leaning over the Kirwans and Charlotte, who hardly got
  a seat all night for the crowd, said she begged to speak to me. I
  squeezed my great person out, and she then said:

  “‘Miss Burney, Lady Say and Sele desires the honour of being
  introduced to you.’

  “Her ladyship stood by her side. She seems pretty near fifty—at least
  turned forty; her head was full of feathers, flowers, jewels, and
  gew-gaws, and as high as Lady Archer’s; her dress was trimmed with
  beads, silver, Persian sashes, and all sort of fine fancies; her face
  is thin and fiery, and her whole manner spoke a lady all alive.

  “‘Miss Burney,’ cried she, with great quickness, and a look all
  curiosity, ‘I am very happy to see you; I have longed to see you a
  great while; I have read your performance, and I am quite delighted
  with it. I think it’s the most elegant novel I ever read in my life.
  Such a style! I am quite surprised at it. I can’t think where you got
  so much invention!’

  “‘You may believe this was a reception not to make me very loquacious.
  I did not know which way to turn my head.

  “‘I must introduce you,’ continued her ladyship, ‘to my sister; she’ll
  be quite delighted to see you. She has written a novel herself; so you
  are sister authoresses. A most elegant thing it is, I assure you;
  almost as pretty as yours, only not quite so elegant. She has written
  two novels, only one is not so pretty as the other. But I shall insist
  upon your seeing them. One is in letters, like yours, only yours is
  prettiest; it’s called the “Mausoleum of Julia!”’

  “What unfeeling things, thought I, are _my_ sisters! I’m sure I never
  heard them go about thus praising _me_!

  “Mrs. Paradise then again came forward, and, taking my hand, led me up
  to her ladyship’s sister, Lady Hawke, saying aloud, and with a
  courteous smirk, ‘Miss Burney, ma’am, authoress of “Evelina.”’...

  “Lady Hawke arose and curtseyed. She is much younger than her sister,
  and rather pretty; extremely languishing, delicate, and pathetic;
  apparently accustomed to be reckoned the genius of her family, and
  well contented to be looked upon as a creature dropped from the

  “‘My sister intends,’ said Lady Say and Sele, ‘to print her
  “Mausoleum,” just for her own friends and acquaintances.’

  “‘Yes,’ said Lady Hawke: ‘I have never printed yet.’...

  “‘Well,’ cried Lady Say, ‘but do repeat that sweet part that I am so
  fond of—you know what I mean; Miss Burney _must_ hear it—out of your
  novel, you know!’

  “_Lady H._: No, I can’t; I have forgot it.

  “_Lady S._: Oh, no! I am sure you have not; I insist upon it.

  “_Lady H._: But I know you can repeat it yourself; you have so fine a
  memory; I am sure you can repeat it.

  “_Lady S._: Oh, but I should not do it justice! that’s all—I should
  not do it justice!

  “Lady Hawke then bent forward, and repeated: ‘If, when he made the
  declaration of his love, the sensibility that beamed in his eyes was
  felt in his heart, what pleasing sensations and soft alarms might not
  that tender avowal awaken!’

  “‘And from what, ma’am,’ cried I, astonished, and imagining I had
  mistaken them, ‘is this taken?’

  “‘From my sister’s novel!’ answered the delighted Lady Say and Sele,
  expecting my raptures to be equal to her own; ‘it’s in the
  “Mausoleum,”—did not you know that? Well, I can’t think how you can
  write these sweet novels! And it’s all just like that part. Lord Hawke
  himself says it’s all poetry. For my part, I’m sure I never could
  write so. I suppose, Miss Burney, you are producing another—a’n’t

  “‘No, ma’am.’

  “‘Oh, I dare say you are. I dare say you are writing one at this very

  Years afterwards, when Miss Burney had entered the royal household,
  Queen Charlotte lent her a presentation copy of a novel which her
  Majesty had received from Lady Hawke. The book proved to be the
  “Mausoleum of Julia,” then at length given to the public. “It is all
  of a piece,” laughed Fanny, on reading it—“all love, love, love,
  unmixed and unadulterated with any more worldly materials.”

‘Cecilia’ was now passing slowly through the press, amidst the comments
and flattering predictions of the few friends who were permitted to see
the manuscript. Mrs. Thrale and Queeny reddened their eyes over the
pages; Dr. Burney found them more engrossing even than ‘Evelina;’ but
the author’s only real adviser was her ‘other daddy.’ Crisp was a close,
but not an overbearing critic; he had great faith in his Fannikin, and
he was restrained, besides, by rankling memories of his unfortunate
‘Virginia.’ ‘Whomever you think fit to consult,’ he wrote, ‘let their
talents and taste be ever so great, hear what they say, but never give
up, or alter a tittle, merely on their authority, nor unless it
perfectly accords with your own inward feelings. I can say this to my
sorrow and to my cost. But mum!’ And if Crisp was somewhat dogmatic, he
was also a sanguine admirer, declaring that he would insure the rapid
and complete success of the novel for half a crown. Miss Burney, too,
though bashful in a drawing-room, had plenty of self-reliance in her
study, and was by no means disposed to be often seeking counsel.
Macaulay, always confident in his conjectures, will have it that she
received assistance from Johnson. But he had before him, in the Diary, a
distinct assertion to the contrary, stated to have been made by the
Doctor himself some time after the publication. If we may trust Fanny,
Johnson said: ‘Ay, some people want to make out some credit to me from
the little rogue’s book. I was told by a gentleman this morning that it
was a very fine book if it was all her own. “It is all her own,” said I,
“for me, I am sure; for I never saw one word of it before it was
printed.”’[53] Macaulay did not mean to emulate Croker; he was betrayed
by fancied resemblances of style, than which nothing can be more
deceptive. The probability is that the manuscript was not submitted to
Johnson, lest he should be held to have written what he only corrected.

‘Cecilia; or, The Memoirs of an heiress,’ was published in July, 1782.
“We have been informed,” says Macaulay, “by persons who remember those
days, that no romance of Sir Walter Scott was more impatiently awaited,
or more eagerly snatched from the counters of the booksellers.” The
first edition, which was exhausted in the following October, consisted
of two thousand copies; and Macaulay was told by someone, not named,
that an equal number of pounds was received by the author for her work.
There is no producible authority for the latter statement, and we cannot
but think that it is an exaggeration, arising out of some confusion
between the amount paid for the copyright, and the number of copies
first printed. At any rate, the sum mentioned does not seem to square
with some expressions used by Burke, who about this time began to take a
personal interest in Miss Burney.

The great statesman was introduced to her, a few days before her second
novel appeared, at a dinner given by Sir Joshua in his house on Richmond
Hill. At the end of July he addressed her in a letter of congratulation:
‘You have crowded,’ he wrote, ‘into a few small volumes an incredible
variety of characters; most of them well planned, well supported, and
well contrasted with each other. If there be any fault in this respect,
it is one in which you are in no great danger of being imitated. Justly
as your characters are drawn, perhaps they are too numerous. But I beg
pardon; I fear it is quite in vain to preach economy to those who are
come young to excessive and sudden opulence. I might trespass on your
delicacy if I should fill my letter to you with what I fill my
conversation to others. I should be troublesome to you alone if I should
tell you all I feel and think on the natural vein of humour, the tender
pathetic, the comprehensive and noble moral, and the sagacious
observation, that appear quite throughout that extraordinary
performance.’ To be addressed in such terms by such a man was enough to
turn the head of any young writer; and this letter may be regarded as
marking the topmost point in Fanny’s literary career.

Four months afterwards she encountered Mr. Burke again at Miss
Monckton’s[54] assembly. The gathering was a brilliant one: most of the
ladies present were going to the Duchess of Cumberland’s, and were in
full dress, oppressed by the weight of their sacques and ruffles; but as
soon as Burke and Sir Joshua Reynolds entered, Frances Burney had no
eyes for anyone else. When the knight had paid his compliments, Burke
sat down beside her, and a conversation ensued, in which the great man
used the words to which we have referred. He began by repeating and
amplifying the praises of his letter; and then, not to appear fulsome,
proceeded to find fault: the famous masquerade he thought too long, and
that something might be spared from Harrel’s grand assembly; he did not
like Morrice’s part at the Pantheon, and he wished the conclusion either
more happy or more miserable; ‘for in a work of imagination,’ said he,
‘there is no medium.’ But, he added, there was one further fault more
serious than any he had mentioned, and that was the disposal of the
book: why had not Mr. Briggs, the city gentleman of the novel, been sent
for? he would have taken care that it should not be parted with so much
below par. Had two thousand pounds, or any sum approaching that, been
given for the copyright, the price could not have been considered
insufficient. We are obliged, therefore, to conclude that the story told
to the Edinburgh Reviewer was apocryphal.[55]

The list of Miss Burney’s friends continued to enlarge itself. In the
winter of 1782-3, besides being made free of certain fashionable houses,
such as Miss Monckton’s and Mrs. Walsingham’s,[56] she became known to
the two ‘old wits,’ Owen Cambridge and Soame Jenyns,[57] to Erskine, the
Wartons, Benjamin West, Jackson of Exeter, William Windham, Dr. Parr,
Mrs. Delany, and a host of others, till she began ‘to grow most heartily
sick of this continual round of visiting, and these eternal new
acquaintances.’ Soame Jenyns came to meet her at a reception arranged by
his special request, and, at seventy-eight, arrayed himself for the
occasion in a Court suit of apricot-coloured silk, lined with white
satin, making all the slow speed in his power to address her, as she
entered, in a studied harangue on the honour, and the pleasure, and the
what not, of seeing so celebrated an authoress; while the whole of a
large company rose, and stood to listen to his compliments.

But the time was coming when Frances was to learn that life has its
trials even for the most favoured children of fortune. In the spring of
1783, Mr. Crisp’s old enemy the gout fixed upon his head and chest; and,
after an illness of some duration, he sank under the attack. His fits of
gout had latterly become so constant that at first the fatal seizure
caused little apprehension. In the early part of his sufferings Fanny
sent frequent letters to cheer him. ‘God bless,’ she writes, ‘and
restore you, my most dear daddy! You know not how kindly I take your
thinking of me, and inquiring about me, in an illness that might so well
make you forget us all; but Susan assures me your heart is as
affectionate as ever to your ever and ever faithful and loving child.’
As soon as danger was declared, she hastened to Chesington. She attended
the old man throughout his last few days; he called her, at parting,
‘the dearest thing to him on earth;’ and her passionate sorrow for his
death excited the alarm, though not the jealousy, of her natural

And this loss was not the only trouble of that year. Mrs. Thrale had for
some time been meditating her foolish second marriage. As soon as
‘Cecilia’ was off her mind, Miss Burney had resumed her visits to
Streatham. She at once found that her friend was changed. Mrs. Thrale
had become absent, restless, moody. The secret of her attachment to
Piozzi was not long in being disclosed to Fanny, who could give her
comfort, though not sympathy. The latter remained long enough at
Streatham to witness the gradual estrangement of her hostess from Dr.
Johnson. One morning the Doctor accompanied his little Burney in the
carriage to London: as they turned into Streatham Common, he exclaimed,
pointing backwards: ‘That house is lost to _me_ for ever!’ A few weeks
later, the house was let to Lord Shelburne. Mrs. Thrale retired to
Brighton, and afterwards coming to town, passed the winter in Argyle
Street. Frances spent much time with her there. But in the beginning of
April the uneasy widow went with her three eldest daughters to take up
her abode at Bath, till she could make up her mind to complete the match
which all her friends disapproved. Crisp’s illness becoming serious
shortly afterwards, left Fanny no time at first to grieve over this
separation. She felt it all the more on her return to St. Martin’s
Street after her daddy’s death. And in the summer, Dr. Johnson’s health,
which for some time had been steadily declining, was broken down by a
stroke of paralysis. She visited him frequently at his house in Bolt
Court. One evening, when she with her father and some others were
sitting with him, he turned aside to her, and, grasping her hand, said:
‘The blister I have tried for my breath has betrayed some very bad
tokens; but I will not terrify myself by talking of them. Ah, _priez
Dieu pour moi_!’

One ray of comfort the close of 1783 brought with it. On the day on
which the Ministry to which he belonged was dissolved, Mr. Burke
appointed Dr. Burney organist of Chelsea Hospital, at the insignificant,
though augmented salary of £50 a year, regretting that while he had been
Paymaster-General, nothing more worthy of the Doctor’s acceptance had
fallen to his disposal. About this incident Miss Burney writes: ‘You
have heard the whole story of Mr. Burke, the Chelsea Hospital, and his
most charming letter? To-day he called, and, as my father was out,
inquired for me. He made a thousand apologies for breaking in upon me,
but said the business was finally settled at the Treasury. Nothing could
be more delicate, more elegant than his manner of doing this kindness. I
don’t know whether he was most polite, or most friendly, in his whole
behaviour to me. I could almost have cried when he said, “This is my
last act in office.” He said it with so manly a cheerfulness, in the
midst of undisguised regret. What a man he is!’

The record of 1784 in the Diary is very short. The chief incidents are
the marriage of Mrs. Thrale to Piozzi, and the death of Dr. Johnson.
Enough, and more than enough, has been written on the subject of the
marriage. Most of the lady’s contemporaries spoke of it as if it had
been some disgraceful offence. Many in later times have adopted the same
tone. Dr. Burney had introduced Piozzi to the Thrales, and for this and
other reasons, the Doctor and his family were disposed to be more
lenient in their judgment. Dr. Burney said: ‘No one could blame Piozzi
for accepting a gay rich widow. What could a man do better?’ And the
singing-master was a quiet, inoffensive person. Still, as to the lady,
it could not be forgotten that she had young daughters, whose prospects
she had no right to prejudice by a match so unequal and so generally
condemned. It is, therefore, not surprising that when the wedding took
place about the middle of this year, and Mrs. Piozzi wrote, demanding
cordial congratulations, Miss Burney was unable to reply with warmth
enough to satisfy her. The intimate friendship and correspondence of six
years, therefore, came to an end. Fanny, who was the last to write,
attributed the rupture, at one time, to the cause just mentioned, and,
at another, to the resentment of Piozzi, when informed of her constant
opposition to the union.

Some months later, Miss Burney had her final interview with Dr. Johnson:

  “Last Thursday, Nov. 25th, my father set me down at Bolt Court, while
  he went on upon business. I was anxious to again see poor Dr. Johnson,
  who has had terrible health since his return from Lichfield. He let me
  in, though very ill. He was alone, which I much rejoiced at: for I had
  a longer and more satisfactory conversation with him than I have had
  for many months. He was in rather better spirits, too, than I have
  lately seen him; but he told me he was going to try what sleeping out
  of town might do for him.

  “‘I remember,’ said he, ‘that my wife, when she was near her end, poor
  woman, was also advised to sleep out of town; and when she was carried
  to the lodgings that had been prepared for her, she complained that
  the staircase was in very bad condition—for the plaster was beaten off
  the walls in many places. ‘Oh,’ said the man of the house, ‘that’s
  nothing but by the knocks against it of the coffins of the poor souls
  that have died in the lodgings!’

  “He laughed, though not without apparent secret anguish, in telling me
  this. I felt extremely shocked, but, willing to confine my words at
  least to the literal story, I only exclaimed against the unfeeling
  absurdity of such a confession.

  “‘Such a confession,’ cried he, ‘to a person then coming to try his
  lodging for her health, contains, indeed, more absurdity than we can
  well lay our account for.’

  “I had seen Miss T. the day before.

  “‘So,’ said he, ‘did I.’

  “I then said: ‘Do you ever, sir, hear from her mother?’

  “‘No,’ cried he, ‘nor write to her. I drive her quite from my mind. If
  I meet with one of her letters, I burn it instantly. I have burnt all
  I can find. I never speak of her, and I desire never to hear of her
  more. I drive her, as I said, wholly from my mind.’

  “Yet, wholly to change this discourse, I gave him a history of the
  Bristol milk-woman,[59] and told him the tales I had heard of her
  writing so wonderfully, though she had read nothing but Young and
  Milton; ‘though those,’ I continued, ‘could never possibly, I should
  think, be the first authors with anybody. Would children understand
  them? and grown people who have not read are children in literature.’

  “‘Doubtless,’ said he; ‘but there is nothing so little comprehended
  among mankind as what is genius. They give to it all, when it can be
  but a part. Genius is nothing more than knowing the use of tools; but
  there must be tools for it to use: a man who has spent all his life in
  this room will give a very poor account of what is contained in the

  “‘Certainly, sir; yet there is such a thing as invention; Shakespeare
  could never have seen a Caliban.’

  “‘No; but he had seen a man, and knew, therefore, how to vary him to a
  monster. A man who would draw a monstrous cow, must first know what a
  cow commonly is; or how can he tell that to give her an ass’s head or
  an elephant’s tusk will make her monstrous? Suppose you show me a man
  who is a very expert carpenter; another will say he was born to be a
  carpenter—but what if he had never seen any wood? Let two men, one
  with genius, the other with none, look at an overturned waggon:—he who
  has no genius, will think of the waggon only as he sees it,
  overturned, and walk on; he who has genius, will paint it to himself
  before it was overturned,—standing still, and moving on, and heavy
  loaded, and empty; but both must see the waggon, to think of it at

  “How just and true all this, my dear Susy! He then grew animated, and
  talked on, upon this milk-woman, upon a once as famous shoemaker, and
  upon our immortal Shakespeare, with as much fire, spirit, wit, and
  truth of criticism and judgment, as ever yet I have heard him. How
  delightfully bright are his faculties, though the poor and infirm
  machine that contains them seems alarmingly giving way.

  “Yet, all brilliant as he was, I saw him growing worse, and offered to
  go, which, for the first time I ever remember, he did not oppose; but,
  most kindly pressing both my hands:

  “‘Be not,’ he said, in a voice of even tenderness, ‘be not longer in
  coming again for my letting you go now.’

  “I assured him I would be the sooner, and was running off, but he
  called me back, in a solemn voice, and, in a manner the most
  energetic, said:

  “‘Remember me in your prayers!’

  “I longed to ask him to remember me, but did not dare. I gave him my
  promise, and, very heavily indeed, I left him. Great, good, and
  excellent that he is, how short a time will he be our boast! Ah, my
  dear Susy, I see he is going! This winter will never conduct him to a
  more genial season here! Elsewhere, who shall hope a fairer? I wish I
  had bid him pray for me; but it seemed to me presumptuous, though this
  repetition of so kind a condescension might, I think, have encouraged

‘He wished to look on her once more; and on the day before his death she
long remained in tears on the stairs leading to his bedroom, in the hope
that she might be called in to receive his blessing. He was then sinking
fast, and though he sent her an affectionate message, was unable to see


Footnote 44:

  1730-1805. A native of Elphin, in Ireland; was educated at St. Omer’s;
  gave up the trade on which he had entered for literature; published
  the _Gray’s Inn Journal_ from 1752 to 1754; went on the stage, wrote
  dramas, and engaged in politics; at last became a barrister, and died
  a Commissioner of Bankrupts. He produced twenty-three plays, of which
  the ‘Grecian Daughter’ was the most popular. His translation of
  Tacitus had great repute in its day.

Footnote 45:

  In January, 1779, Mrs. Thrale wrote to Fanny: “You are twenty odd
  years old, and I am past thirty-six.”

Footnote 46:

    John Delap, D.D. (1725-1812), poet and dramatist. After being curate
    to Mason, the poet, he held livings in Sussex, and wrote numerous
    poems and tragedies, all of which have long been forgotten.

Footnote 47:

  An Italian composer and singer. Born at Rome in 1747; came to England
  in 1774; adopted the profession of singing-master in 1777; settled
  permanently at Bath in 1787, and died there in 1810. He was the author
  of several Operas, and counted Braham among his pupils.

Footnote 48:

    This boy was afterwards the celebrated painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence,
    President of the Royal Academy.

Footnote 49:

    Mr. C. Prince Hoare. The intended patronage did not take place. The
    Lawrences left Devizes almost immediately after the date of the
    above notice, and thenceforth the whole family were supported by the
    extraordinary talents of the boy artist.

Footnote 50:

  M.P. for Ipswich in 1784. Described by Dr. Johnson as having “much
  good in his character, and much usefulness in his knowledge.” Johnson
  used to visit Mr. Cator at his seat at Beckenham.

Footnote 51:

  M.P. for Horsham in 1784.

Footnote 52:

  “Memoirs,” vol. ii., p. 218.

Footnote 53:

  Diary, November 4, 1782. The story, which was repeated and believed by
  Lord Byron, that Johnson superintended ‘Cecilia,’ was corrected by
  Moore in his life of the poet, published in 1830. ‘Lord Byron is here
  mistaken. Dr. Johnson never saw “Cecilia” till it was in print. A day
  or two before publication the young authoress, as I understand, sent
  three copies to the three persons who had most claim to them—her
  father, Mrs. Thrale, and Dr. Johnson.’

Footnote 54:

  The Honourable Mary Monckton, daughter of the first Viscount Galway,
  and wife of the seventh Earl of Cork and Ossory, well known to the
  readers of Boswell as ‘the lively Miss Monckton, who used always to
  have the finest bit of blue at her parties.’ She was born in April,
  1746, and died on the 30th of May 1840.

Footnote 55:

  There is also a letter of Crisp’s in which he mentions a promise of
  Dr. Burney to make up his daughter’s gains to even money. A few years
  later, when her reputation was enhanced by ‘Cecilia,’ Miss Burney
  asked for her third novel, ‘Camilla,’ no more than eleven hundred
  guineas. On the whole, we are inclined to believe that the sum she
  received for ‘Cecilia’ was less than £1,000.

Footnote 56:

  Daughter of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams.

Footnote 57:

  Contributors to “The World.” Soame Jenyns was chiefly known by his
  work “On the Evidences of the Christian Religion.” He died in 1877;
  Cambridge in 1802.

Footnote 58:

  Crisp died April 24, 1783, aged seventy-six. A monument to his memory
  was put up in the little church at Chesington, with an inscription
  from the pen of Dr. Burney. His library was sold in the following

Footnote 59:

    Ann Yearsley.

Footnote 60:



                               CHAPTER V.

Mrs. Delany—Her Childhood—Her First Marriage—Swift—Dr. Delany—The
  Dowager Duchess of Portland—Mrs. Delany a Favourite at Court—Her
  Flower-Work—Miss Burney’s First Visit to Mrs. Delany—Meets the Duchess
  of Portland—Mrs. Sleepe—Crisp—Growth of Friendship with Mrs. Delany—
  Society at her House—Mrs. Delany’s Reminiscences—The Lockes of Norbury
  Park—Mr. Smelt—Dr. Burney has an Audience of the King and Queen—The
  King’s Bounty to Mrs. Delany—Miss Burney Visits Windsor—Meets the King
  and Queen—‘Evelina’—Invention Exhausted—The King’s Opinion of
  Voltaire, Rousseau, and Shakespeare—The Queen and Bookstalls—
  Expectation—Journey to Windsor—The Terrace—Dr. Burney’s
  Disappointment—Proposal of the Queen to Miss Burney—Doubts and Fears—
  An Interview—The Decision—Mistaken Criticism—Burke’s Opinion—A
  Misconception—Horace Walpole’s Regret—Miss Burney’s Journals of her
  Life at Court—Sketches of Character—The King and Queen—Mrs.
  Schwellenberg—The Queen’s Lodge—Miss Burney’s Apartments—A Day’s
  Duties—Royal Snuff—Fictitious Names in the Diary—The Princesses—A
  Royal Birthday—A Walk on the Terrace—The Infant Princess Amelia.

We have mentioned Mrs. Delany in our list of the more remarkable friends
made by Miss Burney during the winter succeeding the publication of
‘Cecilia.’ Burke followed a fashion then prevalent when he pronounced
this venerable lady the fairest model of female excellence in the
previous age. Mrs. Delany owed her distinction in a great measure to the
favour which she enjoyed with the royal family. Born in 1700, she was
early instructed in the ways of a Court, having been brought up by an
aunt who had been maid-of-honour to Queen Mary, and had received for her
charge the promise of a similar employment in the household of Queen
Anne. Having missed this promotion, the girl next fell into the hands of
her uncle, George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, who, though celebrated by
Pope as ‘the friend of every Muse,’ was not gentleman enough to treat
his brother’s child with decent consideration. He forced Mary Granville,
at seventeen, into a marriage with Alexander Pendarves, a Cornish squire
near sixty, of drunken habits and morose manners, who sought the match
chiefly to disappoint his expectant heir. After a few years, this worthy
died of a fit, to the great relief of all belonging to him, but,
unfortunately for his wife, without having made the provision for her
which, to do him justice, he appears to have intended. Some time later
the widow paid a visit to Ireland, where she became acquainted with Dean
Swift, and his intimate associate, Dr. Patrick Delany, who was famed as
a scholar and preacher. After her return, Swift exchanged occasional
letters with her so long as he retained his reason. In 1743, Dr. Delany,
then himself a widower, came over to England to offer himself to her in
marriage. She accepted him, in spite of her family, whose high stomach
rose against a _mésalliance_ with an Irish parson. Their influence,
however, was subsequently used to procure for Delany the deanery of
Down. On his death, which occurred in 1768, Mrs. Delany settled in
London, and, at the time when Miss Burney was introduced to her, had a
house in St. James’s Place. Her most intimate friend was the old Duchess
of Portland, with whom she regularly spent the summer at her Grace’s
dower house of Bulstrode. There she was presented to George III. and his
Queen, both of whom conceived a strong regard for her. The King called
her his dearest Mrs. Delany, and in 1782 commissioned Opie to paint her
portrait, which was placed at Hampton Court.[61]

While Frances Burney was having her first interview with Mrs. Delany,
the Dowager Duchess of Portland condescended to appear upon the scene.
This exalted personage, we are given to understand, had a natural
aversion to female novel-writers, but, at her friend’s request,
consented to receive homage from the author of ‘Cecilia.’ Her curiosity,
in fact, got the better of her pride. Before her arrival, the
conversation turned on the flower-work for which Mrs. Delany was famous
among her acquaintances. This was a kind of paper mosaic, invented by
the old lady, and practised by her until her eyesight failed. Some
specimens of it were thought worthy of being offered, as a tribute of
humble duty, to Queen Charlotte. The admiration freely bestowed on this
trumpery, and the doubtful reception accorded to literary merit in a
woman, illustrate the tone which prevailed in the highest society a
hundred years ago. To cut out bits of coloured paper, and paste them
together on the leaf of an album so as to resemble flowers, was
considered a wonderful achievement even for a paragon of her sex. To
have written the best work of imagination that had proceeded from a
female pen was held to confer only an equivocal title to eminence. The
Duchess, however, exerted herself to be civil. ‘She was a simple woman,’
says Walpole; but she did her best. She joined Mrs. Delany in recalling
the characters that had pleased them most in ‘Cecilia;’ she dwelt on the
spirit of the writing, the fire in the composition, and, ‘with a solemn
sort of voice,’ declared herself gratified by the morality of the book,
‘so striking, so pure, so genuine, so instructive.’ Fanny, always
impressed by grandeur, eager after praise, thankful for notice, was
charmed with these compliments. She found her Grace’s manner not merely
free from arrogance, but ‘free also from its mortifying deputy,
affability.’ Yet the worship of rank, which belonged to that age, was,
in little Miss Burney, always subordinate to better feelings. In her
eyes the dignified visitor appeared by no means so interesting as her
hostess.[62] Nor was it any air of courtliness that attracted her in
Mrs. Delany, but a simple domestic association. Though not a person of
genius, or, it should seem, of any extraordinary cultivation, this
veteran of English and Irish society had preserved an unsullied, gentle,
kindly spirit which showed itself in her face and carriage. Fanny could
not remember to have seen so much sweetness of countenance in anyone
except her own grandmother, Mrs. Sleepe. She at once began to trace, or
to imagine, a resemblance between ‘that saint-like woman’ and her new
friend, and gave herself up to the tenderness which the current of her
thoughts excited.

Besides this similarity, she bethought her of another recollection which
she could with propriety impart to the ladies before her. She had often
heard Mr. Crisp speak of his former intercourse with the Duchess and
Mrs. Delany. The latter, she learned on inquiry, had been chiefly
intimate with Crisp’s sisters; but the Duchess had known Crisp himself
well, and was curious to learn what had become of so agreeable and
accomplished a man. Her questions gave the shy, silent Fanny a theme on
which she could enlarge with animation. ‘I spared not,’ she writes, ‘for
boasting of my dear daddy’s kindness to me.’ The accounts she had
received from the Crisp family, she told Mrs. Delany, had first made her
desire the acquaintance that day commenced. She ran on to relate the
story of Crisp’s disappearance, painted his way of life in his retreat,
and entertained the company with a description of Chesington Hall, its
isolated and lonely position, its ruinous condition, its nearly
inaccessible roads, its quaint old pictures, and straight long garden
paths.[63] Her flow of spirits banished all reserve, and that evening
laid the foundations of a friendship that partly consoled her for the
death of Crisp and the desertion of Mrs. Thrale.

The attachment between Mrs. Delany and the favourite of Chesington and
Streatham grew up rapidly. The entries in Fanny’s Diary show that she
very soon became a constant visitor in St. James’s Place. She is
flattered at being so much in favour there as to find its mistress
always eager to fix a time for their next and next meeting. Yet, while
profuse in praise of her venerable friend, she dwells more on the
qualities of the old lady’s heart than on any accomplishments of mind or
manner; she loves even more than she admires her; possibly some touches
of high-breeding were lost on the music-master’s daughter; at any rate,
the first impression abides with her, and in the noted pattern of
antique polish and taste[64] she sees always the image of the departed
Mrs. Sleepe.

Except in the presence of her young grand-niece Mary Port,[65] Mrs.
Delany’s house had little charm of liveliness. The chief persons that
frequented it belonged to the same generation as the Duchess of
Portland, who spent most of her evenings there. A sombre figure in that
peculiar assembly was Lady Wallingford, the impoverished widow of a
gaming peer, and a daughter of the speculator Law. This lady, who never
opened her lips, invariably appeared in full mourning dress, wearing a
black silk robe, a hoop, long ruffles, a winged cap, and other
appendages of an attire that even then was obsolete. Another visitor was
the Countess of Bute, wife of George III.’s early favourite, and
daughter of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The elderly wit Horace Walpole
often joined a circle in which his old-fashioned pleasantry was still
received with the old applause. Fanny, who had met him elsewhere,
thought that he never showed to such advantage as when surrounded by
those stately dowagers. And while Horace, and most of the other callers,
had, more or less, the air of having outlived their age, the lady to
whom they paid their respects had passed the better portion of her life
in a still more remote period. She encouraged Miss Burney to turn over
Swift’s letters to her; and her most interesting anecdotes related to
the days of the Dean, and Pope, and Young.

Perhaps it was, in part, some memory of the time when she herself had
shared the talk of men of letters, that made her take to the young
writer who had done more to raise the literary credit of women than Mrs.
Montagu, or Hannah More, or the whole tribe of blue-stockings united.
The admired of Johnson, Burke and Reynolds was both a more entertaining
guest, and a greater ornament to her drawing-room, than the respectable
Mrs. Chapone, the learned Mrs. Carter, or even ‘the high-bred, elegant’
Mrs. Boscawen. And, whatever may have been said at a later date by
distant connections of Mrs. Delany, soured by a peevish family pride
which _she_ disdained, her own published letters prove that she not
merely appreciated Fanny’s talents, but understood and valued her
character. At one time she declares that ‘Evelina’ and ‘Cecilia,’
excellent as she finds them, are their author’s meanest praise, and goes
on to extol ‘her admirable understanding, tender affection and sweetness
of manners;’ after three years’ experience she writes of her companion:
‘Her extreme diffidence of herself, notwithstanding her great genius,
and the applause she has met with, adds lustre to all her excellences,
and all improve on acquaintance.’ It is scarcely too much to say that
the correspondence in which these lines occur would never have been
printed but for Miss Burney. The love and esteem expressed in her Diary
have almost alone saved Mrs. Delany’s name from utter oblivion; it would
be strange indeed had such regard gone unrequited by its object.

Frances Burney had certainly a remarkable capacity for friendship. Not
long after her introduction in St. James’s Place, she formed another
acquaintance, which ripened steadily, and became, on Mrs. Delany’s
death, the chief intimacy of her life outside her own family. It seems
to have been in the summer of 1783 that Dr. Burney and his now
celebrated daughter first met with Mr. and Mrs. Locke, of Norbury Park.
From some cause or other, we do not get so vivid a picture of these
worthy persons as we do of most of Fanny’s other friends. This is
perhaps partly explained by the fact that Mr. Locke was a man of
reserved and retiring temperament. But though silent in general society,
he had a benevolent heart and a cultivated taste; was a great lover of
the picturesque, and a collector of works of art. Dr. Burney paid his
first visit to Norbury in company with Sir Joshua Reynolds; and many
years afterwards Sir Thomas Lawrence told Madame d’Arblay that in all
his experience he had never seen a second Mr. Locke. The eldest son of
the house, William Locke, was an amateur artist of some skill. Miss
Burney’s particular friend was, naturally, Mrs. Locke. The sketch
transmitted to us of this lady is even more faint than that of her
husband, whom, we are told, she strongly resembled. She was lovely, of
course, and amiable: Fanny sometimes calls her bewitching; but we search
in vain for anything more distinctive. After the summer of 1784, Miss
Burney, except during her employment at Court, was often at Norbury. It
pleased her to think that when there she was only six miles from
Chesington. And while the place was still new to her, her sister Susan,
who had been abroad for her health, returned, and settled with her
husband, Captain Phillips, in the village of Mickleham, hard by the
gates of Norbury Park. Thenceforth the Park banished all regrets for
Streatham. The Thrales themselves were never more hospitable or kinder
than the excellent Lockes proved to be. If we cannot get to know the
latter as we know the former, it is a satisfaction, at least, to learn
that Mr. Smelt, who had been sub-governor to the Prince of Wales, spoke
of them to Fanny as ‘that divine family.’

Mr. Smelt, previously a slight acquaintance of the Burneys, had lately
shown a disposition to cultivate their society. Such attention on the
part of a confidential royal servant, though easily accounted for by the
fame of ‘Cecilia,’ was among the omens which befell about this time of
what the fates had in store for the author. Another premonitory incident
occurred at the beginning of 1785, when Dr. Burney was admitted to a
private audience of the King and Queen, in order that he might present
to them copies of his narrative of the Handel Commemoration, which had
taken place in the preceding year. The good-natured monarch, according
to his wont on such occasions, entered into a familiar and discursive
conversation with the Doctor. The last topic discussed was the story of
the publication of Evelina. ‘And is it true,’ asked the King eagerly,
‘that you never saw Evelina before it was printed?’ ‘Nor even till long
after it was published,’ was the reply. The King then drew from the
gratified father a detailed account of Evelina’s first introduction to
the world, which, as the Doctor reported, afforded the greatest
amusement to the Queen, as well as to his inquiring Majesty.

The old Duchess of Portland died in July, 1785. Her will made no
provision for her older friend, whom no doubt she had expected to
survive; and this accident indirectly determined the great mistake of
Miss Burney’s life. The loss of her summer quarters at Bulstrode, which
for the half of every year had been her constant home, was a serious
inconvenience for Mrs. Delany, whose income barely sufficed for the
maintenance of her London establishment during the winter. Informed of
this, the King caused a house belonging to the Crown at Windsor, near
the Castle, to be fitted up for the use of his aged favourite, and
settled a pension of three hundred pounds a year upon her for the rest
of her days, that she might be enabled to enjoy a country life without
giving up her accustomed residence in St. James’s Place. The royal
bounty was so complete that Mrs. Delany’s maid was commanded to see that
her mistress brought nothing with her but her clothes: everything else
was to be provided; and when supplies were exhausted, the abigail was to
make a requisition for more. The King himself superintended the workmen:
when his new neighbour arrived, he was on the spot to welcome her; and
she found that her benefactor had not only caused the house to be
furnished with plate, china, glass, and linen, but the cellars to be
stocked with wine, and the cupboards stored with sweetmeats and
pickles.[66] Such was the plainness, and such the generosity, of George

Miss Burney was on a visit to her friend while these arrangements were
in progress; when the latter left London for Windsor, she herself went
to her father at Chesington Hall, in which old haunt Dr. Burney was then
employed on his still unfinished History. In the following December,
Fanny rejoined Mrs. Delany at Windsor, and during her stay there was
introduced to the King and Queen. It seems that etiquette forbade her
being formally presented to them, except at a drawing-room; but they
were desirous of making her acquaintance, and it was at length arranged
that when next their Majesties called on her hostess, as they were in
the habit of doing, she should remain in the room. On the first occasion
that occurred, her courage failed her at the critical moment, and she
fled. A few days later, Mrs. Delany returned from her afternoon nap to
find her nephew, Mr. Bernard Dewes, his little daughter, and Miss Port,
engaged in the drawing-room with Miss Burney, who was teaching the child
some Christmas games, in which her father and cousin joined. The Diary

  “We were all in the middle of the room, and in some confusion;—but she
  had but just come up to us to inquire what was going forwards, and I
  was disentangling myself from Miss Dewes, to be ready to fly off if
  anyone knocked at the street-door, when the door of the drawing-room
  was again opened, and a large man, in deep mourning, appeared at it,
  entering and shutting it himself without speaking.

  “A ghost could not more have scared me, when I discovered by its
  glitter on the black, a star! The general disorder had prevented his
  being seen, except by myself, who was always on the watch, till Miss
  Port, turning round, exclaimed, ‘The King!—Aunt, the King!’

  “Oh, mercy! thought I, that I were but out of the room! which way
  shall I escape? and how pass him unnoticed? There is but the single
  door at which he entered, in the room! Everyone scampered out of the
  way: Miss Port, to stand next the door; Mr. Bernard Dewes to a corner
  opposite it; his little girl clung to me; and Mrs. Delany advanced to
  meet his Majesty, who, after quietly looking on till she saw him,
  approached, and, inquired how she did.

  “He then spoke to Mr. Bernard, whom he had already met two or three
  times here.

  “I had now retreated to the wall, and purposed gliding softly, though
  speedily, out of the room; but before I had taken a single step, the
  King, in a loud whisper to Mrs. Delany, said, ‘Is that Miss Burney?’—
  and on her answering, ‘Yes, sir,’ he bowed, and with a countenance of
  the most perfect good humour, came close up to me.”

Having put a question to her, and received an inaudible reply, he went
back to Mrs. Delany, and spoke of the Princess Elizabeth, who,
incredible as it sounds, was then recovering from an illness after
having been blooded twelve times in a fortnight:

  “A good deal of talk then followed about his own health, and the
  extreme temperance by which he preserved it. The fault of his
  constitution, he said, was a tendency to excessive fat, which he kept,
  however, in order by the most vigorous exercise, and the strictest
  attention to a simple diet.

  “When Mrs. Delany was beginning to praise his forbearance, he stopped

  “‘No, no,’ he cried, ‘’tis no virtue; I only prefer eating plain and
  little, to growing diseased and infirm.’

  “During this discourse, I stood quietly in the place where he had
  first spoken to me. His quitting me so soon, and conversing freely and
  easily with Mrs. Delany, proved so delightful a relief to me, that I
  no longer wished myself away; and the moment my first panic from the
  surprise was over, I diverted myself with a thousand ridiculous
  notions of my own situation.

  “The Christmas games we had been showing Miss Dewes, it seemed as if
  we were still performing, as none of us thought it proper to move,
  though our manner of standing reminded one of Puss in the corner.
  Close to the door was posted Miss Port; opposite her, close to the
  wainscot, stood Mr. Dewes; at just an equal distance from him, close
  to a window, stood myself; Mrs. Delany, though seated, was at the
  opposite side to Miss Port; and his Majesty kept pretty much in the
  middle of the room. The little girl, who kept close to me, did not
  break the order, and I could hardly help expecting to be beckoned,
  with a puss! puss! puss! to change places with one of my neighbours.

  “This idea, afterwards, gave way to another more pompous. It seemed to
  me we were acting a play. There is something so little like common and
  real life, in everybody’s standing, while talking, in a room full of
  chairs, and standing, too, so aloof from each other, that I almost
  thought myself upon a stage, assisting in the representation of a
  tragedy—in which the King played his own part of the king; Mrs. Delany
  that of a venerable confidante; Mr. Dewes, his respectful attendant;
  Miss Port, a suppliant virgin, waiting encouragement to bring forward
  some petition; Miss Dewes, a young orphan, intended to move the royal
  compassion; and myself, a very solemn, sober, and decent mute.

  “These fancies, however, only regaled me while I continued a quiet
  spectator, and without expectation of being called into play. But the
  King, I have reason to think, meant only to give me time to recover
  from my first embarrassment; and I feel myself infinitely obliged to
  his good breeding and consideration, which perfectly answered, for
  before he returned to me I was entirely recruited....

  “The King went up to the table, and looked at a book of prints, from
  Claude Lorraine, which had been brought down for Miss Dewes; but Mrs.
  Delany, by mistake, told him they were for me. He turned over a leaf
  or two, and then said:

  “‘Pray, does Miss Burney draw too?’

  “The _too_ was pronounced very civilly.

  “‘I believe not, sir,’ answered Mrs. Delany; ‘at least, she does not

  “‘Oh!’ cried he, laughing, ‘that’s nothing! She is not apt to tell;
  she never does tell, you know! Her father told me that himself. He
  told me the whole history of her Evelina. And I shall never forget his
  face when he spoke of his feelings at first taking up the book!—he
  looked quite frightened, just as if he was doing it that moment! I
  never can forget his face while I live!’

  “Then coming up close to me, he said:

  “‘But what?—what?—how was it?’

  “‘Sir,’ cried I, not well understanding him.

  “‘How came you—how happened it?—what?—what?

  “‘I—I only wrote, sir, for my own amusement—only in some odd, idle

  “‘But your publishing—your printing—how was that?’

  “‘That was only, sir—only because——’

  “I hesitated most abominably, not knowing how to tell him a long
  story, and growing terribly confused at these questions—besides, to
  say the truth, his own “what? what?” so reminded me of those vile
  Probationary Odes,[67] that, in the midst of all my flutter, I was
  really hardly able to keep my countenance.

  “The _What!_ was then repeated with so earnest a look, that, forced to
  say something, I stammeringly answered:

  “‘I thought—sir—it would look very well in print!’

  “I do really flatter myself this is the silliest speech I ever made! I
  am quite provoked with myself for it; but a fear of laughing made me
  eager to utter anything, and by no means conscious, till I had spoken,
  of what I was saying.

  “He laughed very heartily himself—well he might—and walked away to
  enjoy it, crying out:

  “‘Very fair indeed! that’s being very fair and honest!’

  “Then, returning to me again, he said:

  “‘But your father—how came you not to show him what you wrote?’

  “‘I was too much ashamed of it, sir, seriously.’

  “Literal truth that, I am sure.

  “‘And how did he find it out?’

  “‘I don’t know myself, sir. He never would tell me.’...

  “‘What entertainment you must have had from hearing people’s
  conjectures before you were known! Do you remember any of them?’...

  “‘I heard that Mr. Baretti laid a wager it was written by a man; for
  no woman, he said, could have kept her own counsel.’

  “This diverted him extremely.

  “‘But how was it,’ he continued, ‘you thought most likely for your
  father to discover you?’

  “‘Sometimes, sir, I have supposed I must have dropped some of the
  manuscript: sometimes, that one of my sisters betrayed me.’

  “‘Oh! your sister?—what, not your brother?’

  “‘No, sir; he could not, for——’

  “I was going on, but he laughed so much I could not be heard,

  “‘Vastly well! I see you are of Mr. Baretti’s mind, and think your
  brother could keep your secret, and not your sister.... But you have
  not kept your pen unemployed all this time?’

  “‘Indeed I have, sir.’

  “‘But why?’

  “‘I—I believe I have exhausted myself, sir.’

  “He laughed aloud at this, and went and told it to Mrs. Delany,
  civilly treating a plain fact as a mere _bon mot_.”

The King asked several other questions about Evelina, and the prospect
of anything further appearing from the author’s pen. A change of subject
led to the mention of hunting, when, looking round on the party, he
said: ‘Did you know that Mrs. Delany once hunted herself, and in a long
gown and a great hoop?’ As he spoke, a violent thunder was heard at the
door. Fanny again felt herself sinking into the carpet. Miss Port slid
out of the room backwards, and lights shone in the hall. Enter the
Queen. Her Majesty drops a profound reverence to the King, holds out
both hands to her dear Mrs. Delany, and then turns her face on the
short-sighted stranger, who, uncertain whether she has received a salute
or not, is bewildered what to do. The King comes to her relief, repeats
to his consort all that Miss Burney has already told him, and proceeds
with a further catechism. The Queen, more curious about the future than
the past, has questions of her own to put. ‘Shall we have no more?—
nothing more?’ she asks. Fanny can only shake her head in reply, and
when gracious phrases of regret and encouragement are uttered, is unable
to find a word of acknowledgment. Presently the conversation, becoming
general, ranges over a variety of topics, from the exemplary behaviour
of the Princess Sophia, aged nearly nine, in guarding her music-master’s
great nose from ridicule, to Bishop Porteous’s sermons, which the King
thought that admired preacher would do wrong to publish, because every
discourse printed would diminish his stock for the pulpit.

Three days later the King made an evening visit. The Diary describes the
mode of his reception on these occasions. ‘The etiquette always observed
on his entrance is, first of all, to fly off to distant quarters; and
next, Miss Port goes out, walking backwards, for more candles, which she
brings in, two at a time, and places upon the tables and pianoforte.
Next she goes out for tea, which she then carries to his Majesty, upon a
large salver, containing sugar, cream, and bread and butter and cake,
while she hangs a napkin over her arm for his fingers. This, it seems,
is a ceremony performed, in other places, always by the mistress of the
house; but here neither of their Majesties will permit Mrs. Delany to
attempt it.’ While drinking his tea, the King ran on, in his usual
discursive vein, about authors, actors, books, and plays. Concerning the
tendency of Voltaire’s works, and the personal character of Rousseau, he
expressed the current opinions of English society; calling the former a
monster, and telling anecdotes to illustrate ‘the savage pride and
insolent ingratitude’ of the latter. He vexed Miss Burney by pronouncing
Mrs. Siddons the most excellent player of his time, not even excepting
the divine Garrick. From players he went to plays, and having deplored
the immorality of the old English comedies, and the poverty of the new
ones, he came at length to Shakspeare.

“‘Was there ever,’ cried he, ‘such stuff as great part of Shakspeare?
only one must not say so! But what think you? What? Is there not sad
stuff? What? What?’

“‘Yes, indeed, I think so, sir, though mixed with such excellences,

“‘Oh!’ cried he, laughing good-humouredly; ‘I know it is not to be said!
but it’s true. Only it’s Shakspeare, and nobody dares abuse him.’

“Then he enumerated many of the characters and parts of plays that he
objected to; and, when he had run them over, finished with again
laughing, and exclaiming: ‘But one should be stoned for saying so!’”

The following afternoon, the Queen came, and was also in a mood for
literary criticism. She talked of the ‘Sorrows of Werter,’ and
Klopstock’s ‘Messiah,’ and mentioned, with praise, another book, saying:

‘I picked it up on a stall. Oh, it is amazing what good books there are
on stalls!’

‘It is amazing to me,’ said Mrs. Delany, ‘to hear that.’

‘Why, I don’t pick them up myself; but I have a servant very clever; and
if they are not to be had at the bookseller’s, they are not for me any
more than for another.’

In May, 1786, the Mastership of the King’s Band, which had formerly been
promised to Dr. Burney, once more became vacant. The Doctor was again a
candidate for the appointment. We gather from his having accepted so
small a post as that of Organist to Chelsea Hospital, and from some
other indications, that his circumstances had not improved as he grew
older. He was now sixty years of age: he must have found the work of
tuition at once less easy to be met with, and more laborious to
discharge, than it had been in his younger days; we cannot be mistaken
in supposing that he was eager to obtain, not merely promotion, but also
some permanent and lighter occupation. In his anxiety he had recourse to
Mr. Smelt, who counselled him to go to Windsor, not to address the King,
but to be seen by him. ‘Take your daughter in your hand,’ said the
experienced courtier, ‘and walk upon the Terrace. Your appearing there
at this time the King will understand, and he is more likely to be
touched by such a hint than by any direct application.’ Burney lost no
time in acting on the advice thus given. When he and Fanny reached the
Terrace in the evening, they found the Royal Family already there. The
King and Queen, the Queen’s mother, and the Prince of Mecklenburg, her
Majesty’s brother, all walked together. Behind them followed six lovely
young princesses,[68] with their ladies and some of the young princes,
making, in the eyes of loyal subjects, ‘a very gay and pleasing
procession of one of the finest families in the world.’ “Every way they
moved,” continues the narrator, “the crowd retired to stand up against
the wall as they passed, and then closed in to follow. When they
approached, and we were retreating, Lady Louisa Clayton placed me next
herself, making her daughters stand below—without which I had certainly
not been seen; for the moment their Majesties advanced, I involuntarily
looked down, and drew my hat over my face. I could not endure to stare
at them; and, full of our real errand, I felt ashamed even of being seen
by them. Consequently, I should have stood in the herd, and unregarded;
but Lady Louisa’s kindness and good breeding put me in a place too
conspicuous to pass unnoticed. The moment the Queen had spoken to her,
which she stopped to do as soon as she came up to her, she inquired, in
a whisper, who was with her. The Queen then instantly stepped near me,
and asked me how I did; and then the King came forward, and, as soon as
he had repeated the same question, said:

“‘Are you come to stay?’

“‘No, sir; not now.’

“‘I was sure,’ cried the Queen, ‘she was not come to stay, by seeing her

“I was glad by this to know my father had been observed.

“‘And when,’ asked the King, ‘do you return again to Windsor?’

“‘Very soon, I hope, sir.’

“‘And—and—and,’ cried he, half laughing and hesitating significantly,
‘pray, how goes on the Muse?’

“At first I only laughed too; but he repeated the inquiry, and then I

“‘Not at all, sir.’

“‘No? But why?—why not?’

“‘I—I—I am afraid, sir,’ stammered I.

“‘And why?’ repeated he;—‘of what?’

“I spoke something—I hardly know what myself—so indistinctly that he
could not hear me, though he had put his head quite under my hat from
the beginning of the little conference; and after another such question
or two, and no greater satisfaction in the answer, he smiled very
good-humouredly, and walked on, his Queen by his side.

“We stayed some time longer on the Terrace, and my poor father
occasionally joined me; but he looked so conscious and depressed that it
pained me to see him. He was not spoken to, though he had a bow every
time the King passed him, and a curtsey from the Queen. But it hurt him,
and he thought it a very bad prognostic; and all there was at all to
build upon was the graciousness shown to me.” Much dejected, the Doctor
posted back to town with his daughter; and, on reaching home, heard that
the place he sought had been disposed of by the Lord Chamberlain, in
whose gift it was.

Miss Burney was persuaded that the King was displeased with the action
of his official, but we venture to doubt the correctness of her belief.
Beyond question, Mr. Smelt had had good reason for implying that the
daughter, rather than the father, was the object of favour at Windsor.
Dr. Burney was by no means a sound enough Handelian to satisfy George
III. And, to say the truth, the account of the Handel Centenary Festival
was but a poor performance. On the other hand, Fanny’s literary success,
and her manner of carrying it, had pleased and interested the royal
pair. It is probable, if not absolutely certain, that the design of
finding her some employment at Court had already been entertained, and
that this was considered to render her father’s suit for himself

The first thought was to settle her with one of the princesses, in
preference to the numerous candidates of high birth and station, but
small fortune, who were waiting and supplicating for places about the
persons of the King’s daughters. But in the month following Dr. Burney’s
disappointment, a vacancy occurred in the Queen’s own Household. The
office of Keeper of the Robes was jointly held by two Germans, Mrs.
Schwellenberg and Mrs. Haggerdorn, who had accompanied Charlotte of
Mecklenburg-Strelitz, when she came to England. The health of Mrs.
Haggerdorn broke down about this time, and in June, 1786, it was
arranged that she should retire, and return to her own country. Who
should succeed her was a matter of eager speculation and fierce
competition in Court circles; but without consulting anyone, the Queen
commissioned Mr. Smelt to make an offer to Frances Burney. This trusted
agent was instructed to express her Majesty’s wish to attach the young
lady permanently to herself and her family: he was to propose to her to
undertake certain duties, which were in fact those of Mrs. Haggerdorn;
and he was to intimate that in case of her accepting the situation
designed for her, she would have apartments in the palace, would belong
to the table of Mrs. Schwellenberg, with whom the Queen’s own visitors—
bishops, lords, or commons—always dined; would be allowed a separate
footman, and the use of a carriage in common with her senior colleague;
and would receive a salary of two hundred pounds a year.

Fanny listened, and was struck with consternation. “The attendance,” she
wrote to her dear Miss Cambridge, “was to be incessant, the confinement
to the Court continual; I was scarce ever to be spared for a single
visit from the palaces, nor to receive anybody but with permission; and
what a life for me, who have friends so dear to me, and to whom
friendship is the balm, the comfort, the very support of existence!’ It
was not the sacrifice of literary prospects that alarmed her. She did
not even think of ‘those distinguished men and women, the flower of all
political parties, with whom she had been in the habit of mixing on
terms of equal intercourse,’[69] and from whose society she would be
exiled. Her mind dwelt only on the pain of being separated from her
family and intimate friends: from Susan and the Lockes; from the old
familiar faces at Chesington; from her sister Charlotte, now married and
settled in Norfolk; from her correspondent at Twickenham. ‘I have no
heart,’ she says, ‘to write to Mickleham or Norbury. I know how they
will grieve: they have expected me to spend the whole summer with them.’
Good Mr. Smelt, who, in the words of Macaulay, seems to have thought
that going to Court was like going to heaven, was equally surprised and
mortified at the mournful reception accorded to his flattering
proposals. Mrs. Delany, in whose town house they were delivered, was not
less astounded. The recipient, however, had but one thought, that, which
ever way her own feelings inclined, the matter must be referred to her
father, as the only person entitled to decide it. Dr. Burney, as might
have been anticipated, was enraptured by the honour done to his family,
and the vista which, in his sanguine view, was opened before his
daughter. Meanwhile, Mr. Smelt had gone down to Windsor, and brought
back word that the Queen desired a personal interview with Miss Burney.
Fanny had her audience, and it ended, as she foresaw must be the case,
in her submission. When her Majesty said, with the most condescending
softness, ‘I am sure, Miss Burney, we shall suit one another very well,’
there was nothing to be done, but to make a humble reverence, and
accept. The Queen told Mrs. Delany: ‘I was led to think of Miss Burney,
first by her books, then by seeing her; then by always hearing how she
was loved by her friends; but chiefly by your friendship for her.’

Of course, the proposition and the acceptance were alike mistaken. The
service required was unworthy of the servant, nor was she competent for
the service. On the one hand, the talents of a brilliant writer were
thrown away in a situation where writing was neither expected nor
desired. On the other, a novice of puny figure, imperfect sight, extreme
nervousness, and small aptitude for ordinary feminine duties, was most
unlikely to become distinguished in the profession of a
lady-in-attendance. Under the most favourable circumstances, the gains
and advantages attached to her constrained life at Court were not to be
compared with those which might be looked for from the diligent use of
her pen in the freedom of home. Yet allowing all this, we cannot
disguise from ourselves that much heedless rhetoric has been expended by
several critics on the folly of Miss Burney’s choice, and the
infatuation of her parent. These critics, we conceive, have been led
astray, partly by those more extreme trials of her servitude which no
prudence could have foreseen, but principally by an erroneous estimate
of her position at the time when she closed with the Queen’s offer.

The picture which has been imagined of Frances Burney sending forth, at
short intervals, a series of ‘Cecilias,’ and receiving for each a cheque
of two thousand guineas, is attractive, but purely visionary. It would,
we venture to say, have tickled her fine sense of humour amazingly. We
are not to think of her as of a favourite novelist of to-day, whom the
booksellers and the editors of magazines conspire to keep constantly
employed. Her longing to see herself in print seems to have been
satiated by the appearance of ‘Evelina.’ Her second work was a much less
spontaneous production. Indeed, it is not clear that ‘Cecilia’ would
have been written but for the urgency of Crisp, seconded by other
friends. Her two fathers were agreed that she ought to exert herself
while her powers and her fame were fresh; but how much stimulus was
applied after Crisp’s death, we are not informed. Hers was not a very
energetic nature, and she had some misgiving that her invention was
exhausted. At any rate, she had now let four years go by without
attempting anything new. Her third book was not published for the space
of a lustrum after her release from Court, and then only under strong
pressure of the _res angusta domi_. There had been some talk of laying
out the amount paid for ‘Cecilia’ in the purchase of an annuity. But we
do not find that this saving plan was executed. What has been
contemptuously called ‘board, lodging, and two hundred a year,’ was no
bad provision for a single lady of thirty-four, who was producing
nothing, and had no income of her own. Boswell, it is true, declared
that he would farm her out himself for double or treble the money; but
then Boswell did not know a great deal of female authors. Burney was
much better aware what to expect from his daughter’s enterprise and
resolution; and we are by no means sure that, in accepting for her the
offered place, he proved himself a less practical man than the
‘irresponsible reviewers’ who have derided him as a moon-struck
worshipper of royalty. Burke, who certainly did not undervalue Miss
Burney, and who knew something of her family circumstances, was
delighted at the news, and thought that the Queen had never shown more
good sense than in appointing Miss Burney to her service; though he
afterwards owned to having miscalculated, when the service turned out to
mean confinement to such a companion as Mrs. Schwellenberg.

But neither the irksomeness of the duty, nor the character of Mrs.
Schwellenberg, was known to the outer world. Both required experience to
make them understood. How by degrees they disclosed themselves to Miss
Burney, we shall learn presently. For the feud which sprang up between
the two ladies, it must, in fairness, be owned that the elder was not
wholly answerable. Miss Burney—we ought now properly to call her Mrs.
Burney—had been appointed second Keeper of the Robes. She seems to have
supposed that this put her on a level with Mrs. Schwellenberg, giving
the latter the advantage of formal precedence only. But whatever had
been the relation of Mrs. Haggerdorn to her colleague, it appears clear
that Fanny, a much younger, and quite inexperienced person, was intended
to be subordinate. Thus, when she expresses a fear that, by want of
spirit to assert it, she had lost a right to invite guests to table, we
cannot but remember that, in the terms proposed to her, the table had
been described as Mrs. Schwellenberg’s. The chief Keeper, as we shall
see, was coarse and offensive in speech, domineering and tyrannical in
action, but her junior sometimes resented a tone of superiority and
command which their royal mistress evidently thought natural and

Whatever injury Miss Burney may have sustained by entering the palace,
her readers at least have no cause to complain. ‘I am glad for _her_
interest,’ wrote Walpole, ‘though sorry for my own, that Evelina and
Cecilia are to be transformed into a Madame de Motteville, as I shall
certainly not live to read her Memoirs, though I might another novel.’
But what was to Horace a source of regret, may be to us matter for
congratulation. Fanny’s Diaries are now much more studied than her
novels. Few of us would wish to exchange the journal of her life at
Court for another fiction from her pen. The Harrels, the Delvilles, the
Briggses, about whom Burke and Reynolds and Mrs. Delany talked as if
they were real personages, are for most of us names that call up no
association. Queen Charlotte and stout King George are better known to
us than any other royal pair mentioned in English history. And for this
we are in great measure indebted to the little lady who joined their
household in July, 1786. The likeness of the Queen, which we remember as
well as we do the features of our mothers, is entirely of her drawing;
while she contributes not a few of the sketches which are combined in
our impression of the monarch who loved music, and backgammon, and
homely chat, and Ogden’s sermons, as much as he detested popery, and
whiggery, and freethinking, and Wilkes. Nor are characters of another
kind wanting in this journal. Mrs. Schwellenberg’s arrogance, her
insolence, her peevishness, her ferocious selfishness, her broken
English, are more familiar to the present generation than the humours,
the affectations, the piebald dialect of Madame Duval, or than the
traits of any of the other figures in Evelina. The Senior Robe-keeper
was no doubt as indifferent to posthumous reputation as she was to the
contemporary opinion of all who could not displace her. That she ran any
risk from the satire of her timorous assistant was a thought which never
occurred to her illiterate mind. She hardly knew what satire meant. She
flattered herself that Harry Bunbury could not caricature her because
she had no hump. For writers of imagination she had an unbounded
contempt. ‘I won’t have nothing what you call novels,’ she once cried in
Fanny’s presence, ‘what you call romances, what you call histories—I
might not read such what you call stuff—not I!’ Had she been one degree
less callous, or one degree less ignorant, she might have been slower to
provoke the hostility of Johnson’s ‘little character-monger.’ Well! we
have her portrait, most carefully executed. And we have also, by the
same cunning hand, vivid delineations of many other persons, more or
less notable, and of several interesting scenes that fell under the
artist’s view during her connection with the Queen. We do not go to Miss
Burney’s record of those five years for secrets of state, or politics,
or even Court scandal—with which last, indeed, she seems to have busied
herself as little as with the first two—but for a picture of the
domestic life and manners of the Sovereign and his consort. It is no
small proof of the journalist’s tact and discretion that she was able to
produce so candid a narrative of what she experienced and witnessed
without giving offence to the family concerned. The Duke of Sussex is
reported to have said, that he and the other surviving children of
George III. had been alarmed when the Diaries of Madame d’Arblay were
announced for publication, but pleased with the book when it appeared;
‘though I think,’ added his Royal Highness, ‘that she is rather hard on
poor old Schwellenberg.’ The Duke, of course, had seen the Schwellenberg
only in her part of an abject toad-eater. Yet there may be something in
his observation. Fanny had a light touch, but, like other women, was
unforgiving towards an enemy of her own sex.

Our readers must not suppose that Miss Burney, on her appointment, went
to live in Windsor Castle. Some years before that time, the Castle had
been forsaken by the royal family as uninhabitable. A sort of makeshift
palace, known as the Upper Lodge, or the Queen’s Lodge,[70] was erected
hard by, opposite the South Terrace; a long narrow building, with
battlements fronting northward towards the old towers, and southward
towards a walled garden, at the further end of which was placed the
Lower Lodge, a smaller building of similar character, appropriated to
the use of the Princesses. Fanny, as an attendant on the person of the
Queen, was quartered in the Upper Lodge. “My Windsor apartment,” she
wrote, “is extremely comfortable. I have a large drawing-room, as they
call it, which is on the ground-floor, as are all the Queen’s rooms, and
which faces the Castle and the venerable Round Tower, and opens at the
further side, from the windows, to the Little Park. It is airy,
pleasant, clean, and healthy. My bedroom is small, but neat and
comfortable; its entrance is only from the drawing-room, and it looks to
the garden. These two rooms are delightfully independent of all the rest
of the house, and contain everything I can desire for my convenience and
comfort.” The sitting-room had a view of the walk leading to the
Terrace, access to which was obtained by a flight of steps and an iron
gate. Mrs. Delany’s door was at a distance of less than fifty yards from
the Queen’s Lodge. The paltry and uncomfortable barracks erected under
George III. no longer discredit the Crown of England. The restoration of
Windsor Castle was commenced in 1800, and occupied a good many years.
‘In 1823 the Queen’s House was pulled down, and the present royal
stables, built in 1839, occupy part of the site. It is, indeed, very
difficult to identify any of the landmarks now; everything has been so
completely changed. The steps and the iron gate, the railings and the
Princesses’ garden, have all disappeared as completely as the Upper and
Lower Lodges.’[71]

In the following passage we have a summary of the new Robe-keeper’s
usual round of daily duties:

“I rise at six o’clock, dress in a morning gown and cap, and wait my
first summons, which is at all times from seven to near eight, but
commonly in the exact half-hour between them. The Queen never sends for
me till her hair is dressed. This, in a morning, is always done by her
wardrobe-woman, Mrs. Thielky, a German, but who speaks English perfectly
well. Mrs. Schwellenberg, since the first week, has never come down in a
morning at all. The Queen’s dress is finished by Mrs. Thielky and
myself. No maid ever enters the room while the Queen is in it. Mrs.
Thielky hands the things to me, and I put them on. ’Tis fortunate for me
I have not the handing them! I should never know which to take first,
embarrassed as I am, and should run a prodigious risk of giving the gown
before the hoop, and the fan before the neckerchief. By eight o’clock,
or a little after, for she is extremely expeditious, she is dressed. She
then goes out to join the King, and be joined by the Princesses, and
they all proceed to the King’s chapel in the Castle, to prayers,
attended by the governesses of the Princesses, and the King’s equerry.
Various others at times attend; but only these indispensably. I then
return to my own room to breakfast. I make this meal the most pleasant
part of the day; I have a book for my companion, and I allow myself an
hour for it.... At nine o’clock I send off my breakfast-things, and
relinquish my book, to make a serious and steady examination of
everything I have upon my hands in the way of business—in which,
preparations for dress are always included, not for the present day
alone, but for the Court-days, which require a particular dress; for the
next arriving birthday of any of the Royal Family, every one of which
requires new apparel; for Kew, where the dress is plainest; and for
going on here, where the dress is very pleasant to me, requiring no show
nor finery, but merely to be neat, not inelegant, and moderately
fashionable. That over, I have my time at my own disposal till a quarter
before twelve, except on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when I have it only
to a quarter before eleven.... These times mentioned call me to the
irksome and quick-returning labours of the toilette. The hour advanced
on the Wednesdays and Saturdays is for curling and craping the hair,
which it now requires twice a week. A quarter before one is the usual
time for the Queen to begin dressing for the day. Mrs. Schwellenberg
then constantly attends; so do I; Mrs. Thielky, of course, at all times.
We help her off with her gown, and on with her powdering things, and
then the hairdresser is admitted. She generally reads the newspapers
during that operation. When she observes that I have run to her but half
dressed, she constantly gives me leave to return and finish as soon as
she is seated. If she is grave, and reads steadily on, she dismisses me,
whether I am dressed or not; but at all times she never forgets to send
me away while she is powdering, with a consideration not to spoil my
clothes, that one would not expect belonged to her high station. Neither
does she ever detain me without making a point of reading here and there
some little paragraph aloud.... Few minutes elapse ere I am again
summoned. I find her then always removed to her state dressing-room, if
any room in this private mansion can have the epithet of state. There,
in a very short time, her dress is finished. She then says she won’t
detain me, and I hear and see no more of her till bedtime....

“At five, we have dinner. Mrs. Schwellenberg and I meet in the
eating-room. We are commonly tête-à-tête.... When we have dined, we go
upstairs to her apartment, which is directly over mine. Here we have
coffee till the _terracing_ is over: this is at about eight o’clock. Our
tête-à-tête then finishes, and we come down again to the eating-room.
There the equerry, whoever he is, comes to tea constantly, and with him
any gentleman that the King or Queen may have invited for the evening;
and when tea is over, he conducts them, and goes himself, to the
concert-room. This is commonly about nine o’clock. From that time, if
Mrs. Schwellenberg is alone, I never quit her for a minute, till I come
to my little supper at near eleven. Between eleven and twelve my last
summons usually takes place, earlier and later occasionally. Twenty
minutes is the customary time then spent with the Queen: half an hour, I
believe, is seldom exceeded. I then come back, and after doing whatever
I can to forward my dress for the next morning, I go to bed—and to
sleep, too, believe me: the early rising, and a long day’s attention to
new affairs and occupations, cause a fatigue so bodily, that nothing
mental stands against it, and to sleep I fall the moment I have put out
my candle and laid down my head.”

The best-known writer of that day was wounded at first by having to
‘answer the bell,’ like any chambermaid; and she had cast on her another
burden, which even her loyalty could not consider dignified. She had to
mix the Queen’s snuff. To perform this task belonged to her place, and
it was an inflexible rule with her Majesty that discipline must be
preserved. We cannot help thinking that there was a touch of regret in
the King’s voice when he said:

‘Miss Burney, I hear you cook snuff very well.’

‘Miss Burney,’ exclaimed the Princess Elizabeth, ‘I hope you hate snuff;
for I hate it of all things in the world.’

Thus we see that disaffection lurked even in members of the Royal House.

We pause here for a moment to notice that a precaution adopted by Mrs.
Phillips, in her replies to her sister’s _Court Journal_, of giving
fictitious names to some of the persons mentioned, was imitated, when
the Diary was printed, by substituting the names invented by Susan for
the real ones which occurred in the original. Thus, in the published
volumes from which our extracts are taken, Mr. Turbulent stands for M.
de Guiffardière,[72] a clergyman who held the office of French reader to
the Queen and the Princesses; Colonel Welbred is Colonel Greville; and
Colonel Fairly is the Honourable Stephen Digby, who lost his first wife,
a daughter of Lord Ilchester, in 1787, and married Miss Gunning, called
in the Diary Miss Fuzilier, in 1790.

Next to the King and Queen, the most important figures in Fanny’s new
life are their fair daughters, the Princesses who inhabited the Lower
Lodge. ‘The history of the daughters,’ says Thackeray, ‘as little Miss
Burney has painted them, is delightful. They were handsome—she calls
them beautiful; they were most kind, loving, and ladylike; they were
gracious to every person, high and low, who served them. They had many
little accomplishments of their own. This one drew: that one played the
piano: they all worked most prodigiously, and fitted up whole suites of
rooms—pretty smiling Penelopes—with their busy little needles.... The
prettiest of all, I think, is the father’s darling, the Princess Amelia,
pathetic for her beauty, her sweetness, her early death, and for the
extreme passionate tenderness with which the King loved her.’ Three
weeks after Miss Burney entered on her post, occurred the birthday of
this favourite child. On such festivals, when the weather was fine, the
Royal Family never failed to walk on the Terrace, which was crowded with
persons of distinction, who, by this mode of showing respect, escaped
the necessity of attending the next Drawing-room. On the present
occasion, Mrs. Delany was carried in her sedan—the gift of the King—to
the foot of the stairs, and appeared on the promenade with the new
Keeper of the Robes by her side. “It was really a mighty pretty
procession,” writes Fanny. “The little Princess, just turned of three
years old, in a robe-coat covered with fine muslin, a dressed close cap,
white gloves, and a fan, walked on alone and first, highly delighted in
the parade, and turning from side to side to see everybody as she
passed: for all the terracers stand up against the walls, to make a
clear passage for the Royal Family, the moment they come in sight. Then
followed the King and Queen, no less delighted themselves with the joy
of their little darling. The Princess Royal, leaning on Lady Elizabeth
Waldegrave, followed at a little distance; next the Princess Augusta,
holding by the Duchess of Ancaster; and next the Princess Elizabeth,
holding by Lady Charlotte Bertie. Office here takes place of rank, which
occasioned Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave, as lady of her bedchamber, to walk
with the Princess Royal. Then followed the Princess Mary with Miss
Goldsworthy,[73] and the Princess Sophia with Mademoiselle Montmoulin
and Miss Planta;[74] then General Budé and the Duke of Montague;[75]
and, lastly, Major Price, who, as equerry, always brings up the rear,
walks at a distance from the group, and keeps off all crowd from the
Royal Family.”

‘One sees it,’ adds Thackeray: ‘the band playing its old music; the sun
shining on the happy loyal crowd, and lighting the ancient battlements,
the rich elms, and purple landscape, and bright green sward: the royal
standard drooping from the great tower yonder; as old George passes,
followed by his race, preceded by the charming infant, who caresses the
crowd with her innocent smiles.’

The Diary proceeds: ‘On sight of Mrs. Delany, the King instantly stopped
to speak to her. The Queen, of course, and the little Princess, and all
the rest, stood still, in their ranks. They talked a good while with the
sweet old lady; during which time the King once or twice addressed
himself to me. I caught the Queen’s eye, and saw in it a little
surprise, but by no means any displeasure, to see me of the party.

“The little Princess went up to Mrs. Delany, of whom she is very fond,
and behaved like a little angel to her: she then, with a look of inquiry
and recollection, slowly, of her own accord, came behind Mrs. Delany to
look at me. ‘I am afraid,’ said I, in a whisper, and stooping down,
‘your Royal Highness does not remember me?’

“What think you was her answer? An arch little smile, and a nearer
approach, with her lips pouted out to kiss me. I could not resist so
innocent an invitation; but the moment I had accepted it, I was half
afraid it might seem, in so public a place, an improper liberty:
however, there was no help for it. She then took my fan, and having
looked at it on both sides, gravely returned it me, saying, ‘O! a brown


Footnote 61:

  ‘It is pronounced like Rembrandt, but, as I told her, it does not look
  older than she is, but older than she does.’—Walpole to Mason,
  February 14, 1782.

Footnote 62:

  The editor of Mrs. Delany’s ‘Correspondence,’ having a grudge against
  Madame d’Arblay, labours to prove that the Duchess of Portland cannot
  have been present at this interview. The supposed proof consists in
  showing from some old letters that the Duchess did not read ‘Evelina’
  for nearly twelve months after the date spoken of. But this is nothing
  to the purpose. ‘Evelina’ does not appear to have been mentioned when
  its author was introduced to Miss Delany. The conversation recorded to
  have passed related wholly to ‘Cecilia.’

Footnote 63:

  Memoirs, vol. ii., p. 313.

Footnote 64:

  The courtier-bishop Hurd described Mrs. Delany as a lady ‘of great
  politeness and ingenuity, and of an unaffected piety.’

Footnote 65:

  Georgina Mary Ann Port (called ‘Mary’ by her great-aunt) was born on
  September 16, 1771. Her father having outrun his means, she was taken
  by Mrs. Delany, who brought her up to the age of sixteen. Not long
  after the death of her protectress, she married Mr. Benjamin
  Waddington, of Llanover. She died on January 19, 1850.

Footnote 66:

  Miss Burney’s account is confirmed in every important particular by
  Walpole, who states that he had his information from Mrs. Delany’s own
  mouth: Walpole to Lady Ossory, September 17, 1785. Lady Llanover, who
  edited the ‘Delany Correspondence,’ is wroth that the thankful
  recipient of all this minute bounty should be accused of having been
  helped in her housekeeping by the Duchess of Portland. In the ‘Memoirs
  of Dr. Burney’ (vol. iii., p. 50), it is stated that the Duchess, who
  visited at Mrs. Delany’s nearly every evening, contrived to assist the
  _ménage_, without offending her hostess by the offer of money. If
  Madame d’Arblay erred in this statement—and Lady Llanover by no means
  satisfies us that she did err—surely the mistake was a most venial
  one. But Lady Llanover’s outraged dignity fumes through hundreds of
  pages in feeble sneers at Fanny’s low origin, and still more feeble
  attempts to convict her of inaccuracy. _Noblesse oblige._

Footnote 67:

    The Probationary Odes for the Laureateship appeared in 1785, after
    the appointment of Thomas Warton to that office, on the vacancy
    occasioned by the death of William Whitehead.

Footnote 68:

  Charlotte, b. 1766, d. 1828, m. King of Wurtemberg; Augusta, b. 1768,
  d. 1840 (unm.); Elizabeth, b. 1770, d. 1840, m. Landgrave of Hesse
  Homburg; Mary, b. 1776, d. 1840, m. her cousin, the Duke of
  Gloucester; Sophia, b. 1777, d. 1848 (unm.); Amelia, b. 1783, d. 1810

Footnote 69:


Footnote 70:

  It was sometimes called the ‘Queen’s Lodge,’ because it stood on the
  site of the older Queen Anne’s Lodge.

Footnote 71:

  Loftie’s ‘Windsor Castle.’

Footnote 72:

  Commonly known as the Rev. Charles Giffardier. He had a prebendal
  stall at Salisbury, and was vicar of Newington, and rector of
  Berkhampstead.—Croker in the _Quarterly Review_.

Footnote 73:

  Sub-governess of the Princesses.

Footnote 74:

  English teacher to the two eldest Princesses.

Footnote 75:

  Master of the Horse.


                              CHAPTER VI.

Royal Visit to Nuneham—A Present from the Queen—Official Exhortations—
  Embarrassments at Nuneham—A Laborious Sunday—Hairdressing—The Court
  visits Oxford—Journey thither—Reception by the University—Address and
  Reply—Kissing Hands—Christchurch—Fatigues of the Suite—Refreshment
  under Difficulties—A Surprise—The Routine of Court Life—The Equerries—
  Draughts in the Palace—Early Prayers—Barley-water—The London Season—
  Mrs. Siddons—Mrs. Schwellenberg’s Apartments—Her Tame Frogs—Her
  Behaviour to Miss Burney—Cruel Treatment—A Change for the Better—
  Newspaper Reports—Conversation with the Queen—Miss Burney as Reader—
  Her Attainments, Tastes, and Powers.

A few days after the scene described at the end of our last chapter, the
Court set out on a visit to Lord and Lady Harcourt at Nuneham. The
arrangement was that the royal party should pass the first day with
their host and hostess; spend the second and third in excursions to
Oxford and Blenheim respectively, sleeping each night at Nuneham; and
return the fourth day to Windsor. Miss Burney was informed that she was
to be one of her Majesty’s suite. In making this communication to her,
Mrs. Schwellenberg took occasion to say: ‘I tell you once, I shall do
for you what I can; you are to have a gown!’ Seeing Fanny draw back in
surprise at this abrupt speech, the important old lady added: ‘The Queen
will give you a gown; the Queen says you are not rich.’ Offended at the
grossness with which the intended gracious present was offered, our
inexperienced Court servant declared a wish to decline it. Her superior
instantly flew into a passion. ‘Miss Bernar,’ cried she, quite angrily,
‘I tell you once, when the Queen will give you a gown,[76] you must be
humble, thankful, when you are Duchess of Ancaster!’ Before the journey
to Nuneham took place, Fanny, rather unwisely, expressed her regret that
she had some time previously neglected an opportunity of being
introduced to the lady whose house she was about to visit; she had met
Lord Harcourt, she said, and thought it might have smoothed her way to
know something of his Countess also. She was promptly told that she was
utterly insignificant—that, going with the Queen, she was sure of civil
treatment; but that whether or not she had a servant, or any change of
dress, was of no consequence. ‘There is no need,’ said the senior
Robe-Keeper, ‘that you should be seen. I shall do everything that I can
to assist you to appear for nobody.’

In fact, the whole expedition might have seemed to be planned for the
purpose of convincing her that any importance she had once enjoyed was
now absolutely gone. Their Majesties went to Nuneham to breakfast. Miss
Burney followed in the afternoon, with Miss Planta, English teacher of
the Princesses, Mrs. Thielky, the Queen’s wardrobe-woman, and one or two
more of the royal attendants. On their arrival, they found the house to
be ‘one of those straggling, half-new, half-old, half-comfortable, and
half-forlorn mansions, that are begun in one generation and finished in
another.’ We have a graphic and amusing description of accidents
encountered and discomforts endured, before the hapless and helpless
diarist was settled for the night: the being handed from her carriage by
a common postilion; the deserted hall, where not even a porter was to be
seen; the entire absence of a welcome, the whole family being in the
Park, with the King and Queen and Princesses, and the mistress of the
house having deputed no one to act for her; the want of assistance in
searching for her apartment; the wanderings through unknown mazy
passages; the ‘superfine men in yellow-laced liveries’ occasionally met
sauntering along, who disdained to waste a word in answer to inquiries;
the sitting down at length in despair in a room destined for one of the
Princesses; the alarm at being surprised there by its owner and her
sisters; the subsequent promises, only made to be broken, of guidance to
the wished-for haven; and finally, when that haven had at last been
reached, the humiliation of being summoned to supper by a
gentleman-footman haughtily calling out from the foot of the stairs,
‘_The equerries want the ladies!_’ It is impossible to read the account
of these ‘difficulties and disgraces’ without seeing that the shy,
sensitive, flattered novel-writer had indeed mistaken her vocation when
she accepted service in a royal household.

The next day was Sunday, and was appointed to be observed, after due
attendance at Church, by a visit to the University of Oxford. Late on
Saturday night, Miss Burney received the Queen’s commands to belong to
the suite on the morrow, and rejoiced exceedingly that she had brought
with her a new Chambéry gauze, instead of only the dress she wore,
according to her Cerbera’s advice. We abridge Fanny’s narrative of her
laborious Sabbath:

  “AUGUST 13TH.—At six o’clock my hairdresser, to my great satisfaction,
  arrived. Full two hours was he at work, yet was I not finished, when
  Swarthy, the Queen’s hairdresser, came rapping at my door, to tell me
  her Majesty’s hair was done, and she was waiting for me. I hurried as
  fast as I could, and ran down without any cap. She smiled at sight of
  my hasty attire, and said I should not be distressed about a
  hairdresser the next day, but employ Swarthy’s assistant, as soon as
  he had done with the Princesses: ‘You should have had him,’ she added,
  ‘to-day, if I had known you wanted him.’

  “When her Majesty was dressed, all but the hat, she sent for the three
  Princesses; and the King came also. I felt very foolish with my
  uncovered head; but it was somewhat the less awkward, from its being
  very much a custom, in the Royal Family, to go without caps; though
  none that appear before them use such a freedom.

  “As soon as the hat was on—‘Now, Miss Burney,’ said the Queen, ‘I
  won’t keep you; you had better go and dress too.’”

Breakfast and morning service followed, and then came the Oxford

  “How many carriages there were, and how they were arranged, I observed
  not sufficiently to recollect; but the party consisted of their
  Majesties, the Princesses Royal, Augusta, and Elizabeth, the Duchess
  of Ancaster, Lord and Lady Harcourt, Lady Charlotte Bertie, and the
  two Miss Vernons. These last ladies are daughters of the late Lord
  Vernon, and sisters of Lady Harcourt. General Harcourt, Colonel
  Fairly, and Major Price, and Mr. Hagget, with Miss Planta and myself,
  completed the group. Miss Planta and I, of course, as the only
  undignified persons, brought up the rear.... The city of Oxford
  afforded us a very noble view on the road, and its spires, towers, and
  domes soon made me forget all the little objects of minor spleen that
  had been crossing me as I journeyed towards them; and, indeed, by the
  time I arrived in the midst of them, their grandeur, nobility,
  antiquity, and elevation impressed my mind so forcibly, that I felt,
  for the first time since my new situation had taken place, a rushing
  in of ideas that had no connection with it whatever. The roads were
  lined with decently-dressed people, and the high street was so crowded
  we were obliged to drive gently and carefully, to avoid trampling the
  people to death. Yet their behaviour was perfectly respectful and
  proper. Nothing could possibly be better conducted than the whole of
  this expedition.‘

The royal party were received by the Vice-Chancellor, and all the heads
of colleges and professors then in residence, who conducted them in
state to the Theatre, which was crowded with spectators. The King took
his seat, with his head covered, on the Chancellor’s chair, the Queen
and Princesses sitting below him to the left. An address, which was read
by the Vice-Chancellor, contained, among other expressions of loyalty,
the congratulations of the University to the King on his recent escape
from the knife of Margaret Nicholson; at the same time touching on the
distress which the attempt had occasioned the Queen, and paying a
tribute to her amiable and virtuous character.

  “The Queen could scarcely bear it, though she had already, I doubt
  not, heard it at Nuneham, as these addresses must be first read in
  private, to have the answers prepared. Nevertheless, this public
  tribute of loyalty to the King, and of respect to herself, went
  gratefully to her heart, and filled her eyes with tears—which she
  would not, however, encourage, but, smiling through them, dispersed
  them with her fan, with which she was repeatedly obliged to stop their
  course down her cheeks. The Princesses, less guarded, the moment their
  father’s danger was mentioned, wept with but little control....

  “When the address was ended, the King took a paper from Lord Harcourt,
  and read his answer.... When he had done, he took off his hat, and
  bowed to the Chancellor and Professors, and delivered the answer to
  Lord Harcourt, who, walking backwards, descended the stairs, and
  presented it to the Vice-Chancellor....

  “After this, the Vice-Chancellor and Professors begged for the honour
  of kissing the King’s hand. Lord Harcourt was again the backward
  messenger; and here followed a great mark of goodness in the King: he
  saw that nothing less than a thoroughbred old courtier, such as Lord
  Harcourt, could walk backwards down these steps, before himself, and
  in sight of so full a hall of spectators; and he therefore dispensed
  with being approached to his seat, and walked down himself into the
  area, where the Vice-Chancellor kissed his hand, and was imitated by
  every Professor and Doctor in the room.

  “Notwithstanding this considerate good-nature in his Majesty, the
  sight, at times, was very ridiculous. Some of the worthy collegiates,
  unused to such ceremonies, and unaccustomed to such a presence, the
  moment they had kissed the King’s hand, turned their backs to him, and
  walked away as in any common room; others, attempting to do better,
  did still worse, by tottering and stumbling, and falling foul of those
  behind them; some, ashamed to kneel, took the King’s hand straight up
  to their mouths; others, equally off their guard, plumped down on both
  knees, and could hardly get up again; and many, in their confusion,
  fairly arose by pulling his Majesty’s hand to raise them....

  “It was vacation time; there were therefore none of the students

  “At Christ Church, where we arrived at about three o’clock, in a large
  hall there was a cold collation prepared for their Majesties and the
  Princesses. It was at the upper end of the hall. I could not see of
  what it consisted, though it would have been very agreeable, after so
  much standing and sauntering, to have given my opinion of it in an
  experimental way. Their Majesties and the Princesses sat down to this
  table; as well satisfied, I believe, as any of their subjects so to
  do. The Duchess of Ancaster and Lady Harcourt stood behind the chairs
  of the Queen and the Princess Royal. There were no other ladies of
  sufficient rank to officiate for Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth.
  Lord Harcourt stood behind the King’s chair; and the Vice-Chancellor,
  and the Head of Christ Church, with salvers in their hands, stood near
  the table, and ready to hand to the three noble waiters whatever was
  wanted: while the other Reverend Doctors and Learned Professors stood
  aloof, equally ready to present to the Chancellor and the Master
  whatever they were to forward.

  “We, meanwhile, untitled attendants, stood at the other end of the
  room, forming a semicircle, and all strictly facing the Royal
  collationers.... A whisper was soon buzzed through the semicircle of
  the deplorable state of our appetite; and presently it reached the
  ears of some of the worthy Doctors. Immediately a new whisper was
  circulated, which made its progress with great vivacity, to offer us
  whatever we would wish, and to beg us to name what we chose. Tea,
  coffee, and chocolate, were whispered back. The method of producing,
  and the means of swallowing them, were much more difficult to settle
  than the choice of what was acceptable. Major Price and Colonel
  Fairly, however, seeing a very large table close to the wainscot
  behind us, desired our refreshments might be privately conveyed there,
  behind the semicircle, and that, while all the group backed very near
  it, one at a time might feed, screened by all the rest from
  observation. I suppose I need not inform you, my dear Susan, that to
  eat in presence of any of the Royal Family, is as much _hors d’usage_
  as to be seated. This plan had speedy success, and the very good
  Doctors soon, by sly degrees and with watchful caution, covered the
  whole table with tea, coffee, chocolate, cakes, and bread and

  “The Duchess of Ancaster and Lady Harcourt, as soon as the first
  serving attendance was over, were dismissed from the royal chairs, and
  most happy to join our group, and partake of our repast. The Duchess,
  extremely fatigued with standing, drew a small body of troops before
  her, that she might take a few minutes’ rest on a form by one of the
  doors; and Lady Charlotte Bertie did the same, to relieve an ankle
  which she had unfortunately sprained. ‘Poor Miss Burney!’ cried the
  good-natured Duchess, ‘I wish she could sit down, for she is unused to
  this work. She does not know yet what it is to stand for five hours
  following, as we do....’

  “In one of the colleges I stayed so long in an old chapel, lingering
  over antique monuments, that all the party were vanished before I
  missed them, except Doctors and Professors; for we had a train of
  those everywhere; and I was then a little surprised by the approach of
  one of them, saying, ‘You seem inclined to abide with us, Miss
  Burney?’—and then another, in an accent of facetious gallantry, cried,
  ‘No, no; don’t let us shut up Miss Burney among old tombs!—No, no!’”

At Magdalene College, Miss Burney and two or three other members of the
suite, having slipped away to a small parlour, sat down to rest, and
enjoy some apricots which Mr. Fairly had brought in his pockets.
Suddenly the door opened; the Queen entered; the truants started up, and
tried to look as if sitting was a posture unknown to them; while
desperate exertions were made to hide the forbidden fruit. ‘I
discovered,’ says Fanny, ‘that our appetites were to be supposed
annihilated, at the same time that our strength was to be invincible.’
However, her fatigues ended at last, and she was permitted to spend the
Monday in peace among the pictures and gardens of Nuneham, not being
commanded to join in the excursion to Blenheim.

After this expedition, the year wore on slowly and tediously. There were
more royal birthdays to be kept, with the usual terracings and concerts.
In alternate weeks, the Court removed from Windsor to Kew for two or
three days, and again returned to Windsor. There were journeys from Kew
to St. James’s, and back, on the days appointed for Drawing-rooms. But
the ordinary routine of Windsor and Kew was monotony itself. ‘The
household always rose, rode, dined at stated intervals. Day after day
was the same. At the same hour at night the King kissed his daughters’
jolly cheeks; the Princesses kissed their mother’s hand; and Madame
Thielky brought the royal nightcap. At the same hour the equerries and
women-in-waiting had their little dinner, and cackled over their tea.
The King had his backgammon or his evening concert; the equerries yawned
themselves to death in the anteroom.’[77] And it must be remembered that
poor Miss Burney had only a partial share even in this unvaried round of
existence. Her views of the Court proper were confined to glimpses
through half-opened doors, and down the vistas of long corridors. She
was not even permitted to stand at the entrance of the room where
‘nothing but Handel was played;’ and when Mrs. Siddons once came to the
Lodge to read a play, the Keepers of the Robes were only allowed access
to ‘a convenient adjoining room.’ She was licensed to receive hardly
anyone from the outer world, except her father and sisters, Mrs. Delany,
and the Lockes; beyond these, she had to use the utmost caution in
admitting visitors; while her associates within the palace were
restricted to the King’s equerries, Mr. Turbulent, Mrs. Schwellenberg,
Miss Planta, and a few other persons in positions resembling her own.
She saw no other company but the strangers who from time to time were
sent to dine at Mrs. Schwellenberg’s table.

His Majesty’s equerries were certainly not selected for their brilliant
attainments, or their powers of conversation, or even for their polished
manners. One of these gentlemen, a Colonel Goldsworthy, whom Miss Burney
had not before seen, arrived for his turn of duty at the end of
September. ‘He seems to me,’ says the Diary, ‘a man of but little
cultivation or literature, but delighting in a species of dry humour, in
which he shines most successfully, by giving himself up for its
favourite butt.’ He soon began to warn Fanny of the discomforts of
winter service in the ill-built and ill-contrived Queen’s Lodge. ‘Wait
till November and December, and then you’ll get a pretty taste of
them.... Let’s see, how many blasts must you have every time you go to
the Queen? First, one upon opening your door; then another, as you get
down the three steps from it, which are exposed to the wind from the
garden-door downstairs; then a third, as you turn the corner to enter
the passage; then you come plump upon another from the hall door; then
comes another, fit to knock you down, as you turn to the upper passage;
then, just as you turn towards the Queen’s room comes another; and last,
a whiff from the King’s stairs, enough to blow you half a mile off. One
thing,’ he added, ‘pray let me caution you about—don’t go to early
prayers in November; if you do, that will completely kill you!... When
the Princesses, used to it as they are, get regularly knocked up before
this business is over, off they drop one by one:—first the Queen deserts
us; then Princess Elizabeth is done for; then Princess Royal begins
coughing; then Princess Augusta gets the snuffles; and all the poor
attendants, my poor sister[78] at their head, drop off, one after
another, like so many snuffs of candles: till at last, dwindle, dwindle,
dwindle—not a soul goes to the Chapel but the King, the parson, and
myself; and there we three freeze it out together!’

That the King was considerate to his attendants, the following story by
the same elegant wit will testify. It was told after a hard day’s
hunting: “‘After all our labours,’ said he, ‘home we come, with not a
dry thread about us, sore to the very bone, and forced to smile all the
time, and then:

“‘Here, Goldsworthy!’ cries his Majesty; so up I comes to him, bowing
profoundly, and my hair dripping down to my shoes. ‘Goldsworthy, I say,’
he cries, ‘will you have a little barley-water?’

“‘And, pray, did you drink it?’

“‘I drink it?—drink barley-water? No, no; not come to that neither.’ But
there it was, sure enough!—in a jug fit for a sick-room; just such a
thing as you put upon a hob in a chimney, for some poor miserable soul
that keeps his bed! And: ‘Here, Goldsworthy,’ says his Majesty, ‘here’s
the barley-water!’

“‘And did the King drink it himself?’

“‘Yes, God bless his Majesty! but I was too humble a subject to do the
same as the King!’”

In January, 1787, the Court removed to London for the winter. During
their residence in the capital, the Royal Family occupied Buckingham
House, then called the Queen’s House. But the season in town was
interrupted by short weekly visits to Windsor. The only Sundays of the
year which George III. spent in London were the six Sundays of Lent.
Miss Burney went to the play once or twice, and also attended ‘the
Tottenham Street oratorios.’ She had more than one illness in the early
part of this year; but her custodians courteously entreated their
prisoner, and gave her liberty to go to her friends to refresh herself.
Under this permission, she had opportunities of meeting Mrs.
Cholmondeley, Sir Joshua, Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Vesey, Horace Walpole,[79]
and sundry other old acquaintances. But at the beginning of June the
relaxations of this pleasant time, as well as the fatiguing journeys
backwards and forwards to Windsor, came to an end, and the household
were again settled in the Upper Lodge. The rest of the year passed in
much the same way as the summer and autumn of 1786 had done, but with
fewer noticeable incidents.

In August occurred the commanded visit of Mrs. Siddons, to which we have
before referred:

  “In the afternoon ... her Majesty came into the room, and, after a
  little German discourse with Mrs. Schwellenberg, told me Mrs. Siddons
  had been ordered to the Lodge, to read a play, and desired I would
  receive her in my room.

  “I felt a little queer in the office; I had only seen her twice or
  thrice, in large assemblies, at Miss Monckton’s, and at Sir Joshua
  Reynolds’s, and never had been introduced to her, nor spoken with her.
  However, in this dead and tame life I now lead, such an interview was
  by no means undesirable.

  “I had just got to the bottom of the stairs, when she entered the
  passage gallery. I took her into the tea-room, and endeavoured to make
  amends for former distance and taciturnity, by an open and cheerful
  reception. I had heard from sundry people (in old days) that she
  wished to make the acquaintance; but ... now that we came so near, I
  was much disappointed in my expectations.... I found her the Heroine
  of a Tragedy—sublime, elevated, and solemn. In face and person, truly
  noble and commanding; in manners, quiet and stiff; in voice, deep and
  dragging; and in conversation, formal, sententious, calm, and dry. I
  expected her to have been all that is interesting; the delicacy and
  sweetness with which she seizes every opportunity to strike and to
  captivate upon the stage had persuaded me that her mind was formed
  with that peculiar susceptibility which, in different modes, must give
  equal powers to attract and to delight in common life. But I was very
  much mistaken. As a stranger, I must have admired her noble appearance
  and beautiful countenance, and have regretted that nothing in her
  conversation kept pace with their promise; and, as a celebrated
  actress, I had still only to do the same. Whether fame and success
  have spoiled her, or whether she only possesses the skill of
  representing and embellishing materials with which she is furnished by
  others, I know not; but still I remain disappointed.

  “She was scarcely seated, and a little general discourse begun, before
  she told me—all at once—that ‘there was no part she had ever so much
  wished to act as that of Cecilia.’ I made some little acknowledgment,
  and hurried to ask when she had seen Sir Joshua Reynolds, Miss Palmer,
  and others with whom I knew her acquainted. The play she was to read
  was ‘The Provoked Husband.’ She appeared neither alarmed nor elated by
  her summons, but calmly to look upon it as a thing of course, from her

The company that assembled in Mrs. Schwellenberg’s apartments occupied
their leisure hours with small-talk, mild flirtations, and trifling
amusements, varied by occasional misunderstandings. The first Keeper of
the Robes domineered over them all, and her rule was a savage tyranny,
tempered by ill-health. Her infirmities sometimes detained her in London
for weeks together. During her absence, her junior presided at the
dinner-table, and made tea for the equerries. Great was the joy whenever
the old lady went up to town to consult her physician. Then Mr.
Turbulent,[80] more gay and flighty than beseemed a married
clergyman,[81] would practise on the patent prudery of Fanny’s character
by broaching strange theories of morality, and breaking out in wild
rhapsodies of half-amatory admiration. Then the colonels-in-waiting,
relieved from the watchful eyes of Cerbera, exerted themselves for the
entertainment of the fair tea-maker. They were not always successful.
Miss Burney cared but little for Colonel Goldsworthy’s rough humour, and
still less for the vocal performances of a certain Colonel Manners, who,
in love with his own voice, and with what he called the songs that he
heard at church, insisted on regaling his friends with snatches from
Tate and Brady, married to the immortal notes of the National Anthem.
Fanny once or twice caused some unpleasantness by endeavouring to escape
from the duty of receiving the equerries in the evening. As soon as the
Schwellenberg returned, she was again thrown into the background.
Destitute of every attraction, yet constantly demanding notice, the
principal could not bear to see the least attention bestowed on anyone
else. ‘Apparently,’ says the Diary, ‘she never wishes to hear my voice
but when we are _tête-à-tête_, and then never is in good-humour when it
is at rest.’ When in company, she would sometimes talk about a pair of
tame frogs which she kept, and fall into an ecstasy while describing
‘their ladder, their table, and their amiable ways of snapping live
flies.’ ‘And I can make them croak when I will,’ she would say, ‘when I
only go so to my snuff-box—knock, knock, knock—they croak all what I
please.’ Rather to our surprise, we hear of this lady being once engaged
in reading: the author was Josephus, ‘which is the only book in favour
at present, and serves for all occasions, and is quoted to solve all
difficulties.’ But the sole effectual mode of amusing her, after the
gentlemen had retired, was to join her in a game at cards. Fanny
disliked cards, and knew little of trumps or honours; but to avert
threatened attacks of spasms, she was at length fain to waive her
objections, and learn piquet. When in the least crossed, Mrs.
Schwellenberg put no restraint on her temper, language, or demeanour. If
her servants kept her waiting for her coach, she would talk of having
them transported; if Miss Burney spoke of taking tea with Mrs. Delany,
she would leave her unhelped at the dinner-table.

Such was _la Présidente_. More than once, Miss Burney felt her ill-usage
so intolerable that she was only held back from resigning her
appointment by reluctance to mortify her father. The most violent
dispute between them occurred towards the end of November, 1787, when,
during a journey to town for a Drawing-Room, Mrs. Schwellenberg had
insisted upon keeping the window of the carriage on her companion’s side
open, though a sharp wind was blowing, which before their arrival in
London set up an inflammation in poor Fanny’s eyes. The scene on the
journey back is thus described:

  “The next day, when we assembled to return to Windsor, Mr. de Luc was
  in real consternation at sight of my eyes; and I saw an indignant
  glance at my coadjutrix, that could scarce content itself without
  being understood....

  “Some business of Mrs. Schwellenberg’s occasioned a delay of the
  journey, and we all retreated back; and when I returned to my room,
  Miller, the old head housemaid, came to me, with a little neat tin
  saucepan in her hand, saying, ‘Pray, ma’am, use this for your eyes:
  ’tis milk and butter, _such as I used to make for Madame Haggerdorn_
  when she travelled in the winter with Mrs. Schwellenberg.’

  “I really shuddered when she added, that all that poor woman’s
  misfortunes with her eyes, which, from inflammation after
  inflammation, grew nearly blind, were attributed by herself to these
  journeys, in which she was forced to have the glass down at her side
  in all weathers, and frequently the glasses behind her also!

  “Upon my word this account of my predecessor was the least
  exhilarating intelligence I could receive! Goter told me, afterwards,
  that all the servants in the house had remarked _I was going just the
  same way_!

  “Miss Planta presently ran into my room, to say she had hopes we
  should travel without this amiable being; and she had left me but a
  moment when Mrs. Stainforth succeeded her, exclaiming, ‘Oh, for
  Heaven’s sake, don’t leave her behind; for Heaven’s sake, Miss Burney,
  take her with you!’

  “’Twas impossible not to laugh at these opposite interests; both, from
  agony of fear, breaking through all restraint.

  “Soon after, however, we all assembled again, and got into the coach.
  Mr. de Luc, who was my _vis-à-vis_, instantly pulled up the glass.

  “‘Put down that glass!’ was the immediate order.

  “He affected not to hear her, and began conversing.

  “She enraged quite tremendously, calling aloud to be obeyed without
  delay. He looked compassionately at me, and shrugged his shoulders,
  and said, ‘But, ma’am——”

  “‘Do it, Mr. de Luc, when I tell you! I will have it! When you been
  too cold, you might bear it!’

  “‘It is not for me, ma’am, but poor Miss Burney.’

  “‘O, poor Miss Burney might bear it the same! put it down, Mr. de Luc!
  without, I will get out! put it down, when I tell you! It is my coach!
  I will have it selfs! I might go alone in it, or with one, or with
  what you call nobody, when I please!’

  “Frightened for good Mr. de Luc, and the more for being much obliged
  to him, I now interfered, and begged him to let down the glass. Very
  reluctantly he complied, and I leant back in the coach, and held up my
  muff to my eyes.

  “What a journey ensued! To see that face when lighted up with fury is
  a sight for horror! I was glad to exclude it by my muff.

  “Miss Planta alone attempted to speak. I did not think it incumbent on
  me to ‘make the agreeable,’ thus used; I was therefore wholly dumb:
  for not a word, not an apology, not one expression of being sorry for
  what I suffered, was uttered. The most horrible ill-humour, violence,
  and rudeness, were all that were shown. Mr. de Luc was too much
  provoked to take his usual method of passing all off by constant talk:
  and as I had never seen him venture to appear provoked before, I felt
  a great obligation to his kindness.

  “When we were about half-way, we stopped to water the horses. He then
  again pulled up the glass, as if from absence. A voice of fury
  exclaimed, ‘Let it down! without, I won’t go!’

  “‘I am sure,’ cried he, ‘all Mrs. de Luc’s plants will be killed by
  this frost!’

  “For the frost was very severe indeed.

  “Then he proposed my changing places with Miss Planta, who sat
  opposite Mrs. Schwellenberg, and consequently on the sheltered side.

  “‘Yes!’ cried Mrs. Schwellenberg, ‘Miss Burney might sit there, and so
  she ought!’

  “I told her briefly I was always sick in riding backwards.

  “‘Oh, ver well! when you don’t like it, don’t do it. You might bear it
  when you like it! What did the poor Haggerdorn bear it! when the blood
  was all running down from her eyes!’

  “This was too much! ‘I must take, then,’ I cried, ‘the more warning!’”

Even this quarrel blew over. Mrs. Schwellenberg[82] continued to look
black, and hurl thunderbolts, as long as the peccant eyes remained
inflamed, but as these gradually grew well, her brows cleared and her
incivility wore off, till the sufferer became far more in favour than
she had ever presumed to think herself till that time. She was$1‘$2’$3at
every other word; no one else was listened to if she would speak, and no
one else was accepted for a partner at piquet if she would play. Fanny
found no cause to which she could attribute this change, and believed
the whole mere matter of caprice.

In the autumn of 1787, the newspapers began to make frequent mention of
Miss Burney’s name. Paragraphs appeared regretting her long silence, and
the employment to which it was supposed to be attributable.[83] Fanny
had many regrets connected with her situation: she lamented her
dependence on her odious colleague; she lamented the inferiority of most
of her associates; she lamented her separation from her old friends; but
we have no reason to think that she repined at the want of liberty to
print and publish. At least we cannot discover any passage in her Diary
indicating such a feeling. Presently the paragraphs proceeded to mingle
rumours with regrets. The ‘World’ was informed that Miss Burney ‘had
resigned her place about the Queen, and had been promoted to attend the
Princesses, an office far more suited to her character and abilities.’
Then followed a contradiction. ‘The rumour of resignation was premature,
and only arose from thoughts of the benefit the education of the
Princesses might reap from Miss Burney’s virtues and accomplishments.’
Such speculations made it needful for their subject to explain herself
to the Queen. Fanny hastened to repudiate all participation in the idea
that it could be promotion to her to be transferred from the service of
her Majesty to that of the Princesses; she disclaimed, with equal
warmth, having the slightest wish for such a transference. There can be
no doubt that she was perfectly sincere. The Queen, she felt, had some
regard for her, and she had a decided attachment to the Queen. ‘Oh,’ she
sighed, ‘were there no Mrs. Schwellenberg!’

One cannot help wondering if the question whether some more worthy
position at Court might not be found for Miss Burney occurred to the
Queen, or to herself, at this interview. If such a thought did present
itself, it does not seem to have been mentioned by either. Fanny had
early conceived the notion that the Queen intended to employ her as an
English reader. She was not altogether wrong. She had been occasionally
called on to read, but the result did not prove very satisfactory. At
the first trial her voice was quite unmanageable; when she had
concluded, the Queen talked of the _Spectator_ she had read, but
forebore saying anything of any sort about the reader. Of a subsequent
attempt we have this record: ‘Again I read a little to the Queen—two
_Tatlers_; both happened to be very stupid; neither of them Addison’s,
and therefore reader and reading were much on a par: for I cannot arrive
at ease in this exhibition to her Majesty; and where there is fear or
constraint, how deficient, if not faulty, is every performance!’ For the
office of preceptress to the Princesses she was even less fitted than
for that of reader to their mother. Probably Mrs. Goldsworthy and Miss
Planta were much better qualified to instruct their young charges than
Miss Burney would have been. This may be confessed without the slightest
reflection on her extraordinary talents. She could afford to have it
known that her education had been neglected. It was nothing that she had
withdrawn rather ungraciously from Johnson’s Latin lessons. It was
little that she did not understand a word of the German which the Royal
Family commonly spoke among themselves. Hardly any Englishwomen in those
days read Latin, or were acquainted with the language of Goethe and
Wieland. But Miss Burney had not even a strong taste for reading. At the
height of her fame, her knowledge of ordinary English authors was
surprisingly limited. Queen Charlotte, who read a good deal in French
and English, as well as in German, was disappointed by the scanty
furniture of her attendant’s book-shelves. And whenever her Majesty or
anyone else at Court mentioned any standard or current work in her
presence, it almost invariably happened that she had not read it. One
evening, Cowper’s ‘Task’ was referred to, and she was asked if she knew
the poem; ‘Only by character,’ was her answer. She had not even that
amount of acquaintance with Churchill’s Satires, the very existence of
which seems to have been unknown to her. Akenside’s works she knew of
only by some quotations which she had heard from Mr. Locke. It may,
perhaps, be urged that Cowper was then quite a new writer, and that the
fame of Mark Akenside and Charles Churchill, though bright when she was
a child, had become dim before she grew up. Well, then, take Goldsmith.
No poems were more popular than Oliver’s when Fanny began to see the
world in Martin’s Street; yet we have her confession that she never read
the ‘Traveller,’ or ‘The Deserted Village,’ till a friend made her a
present of them in 1790.[84] This being so, we cannot wonder that she
had never heard of Falconer’s ‘Shipwreck’ when Colonel Digby produced a
copy of that work. She appears to have been barely aware of Cumberland’s
‘Observer,’ a production in which she herself and most of her friends
were referred to, until the Queen read some passages to her, and
afterwards lent her the volumes. She had not seen Hawkins’s ‘Life of
Johnson’ when the King first mentioned it to her, and ‘talked it over
with great candour and openness.’ Nor did she take much interest in
literary questions. The Scotch ballad of ‘The Gaberlunzie Man,’ then
lately printed in Germany, she threw aside almost contemptuously, though
it had been lent her by the Queen. About Shakspeare her views were those
of a most loyal subject. She reads Hamlet to Mrs. Delany, and this is
her comment: ‘How noble a play it is, considered in parts! how wild and
how improbable, taken as a whole! But there are speeches, from time to
time, of such exquisite beauty of language, sentiment, and pathos, that
I could wade through the most thorny of roads to arrive at them.’ The
Queen, as Thackeray has observed, could give shrewd opinions about
books, and we suspect she presently learned to value her second
Robe-Keeper for her brightness of intelligence, her powers of
description, and her lively humour, rather than for the solidity or the
variety of her attainments.


Footnote 76:

  Macaulay says that this promise of a gown was never performed; but he
  is mistaken. Miss Burney did get the gown after some delay. It was ‘a
  lilac tabby,’ whatever that may be, or may have been. (Diary, ii.

Footnote 77:


Footnote 78:

  Miss Goldsworthy, sub-governess of the Princesses.

Footnote 79:

  ‘The last time I saw her (Mrs. Vesey) before I left London,’ writes
  Walpole, ‘Miss Burney passed the evening there, looking quite
  recovered and well; and so cheerful and agreeable that the Court seems
  only to have improved the ease of her manner, instead of stamping more
  reserve on it, as I feared. But what slight graces it can give will
  not compensate to us and the world for the loss of her company and her
  writings.’—Walpole to Hannah More, June 15, 1787.

Footnote 80:

  What induced Macaulay to describe this gentleman as ‘half-witted,’ we
  are at a loss to conjecture. He possessed, as Miss Burney bears
  witness, remarkable cleverness, extraordinary attainments and great
  powers of conversation.

Footnote 81:

  He had a wife to whom he was strongly attached.

Footnote 82:

  Croker was told by the Right Hon. Joseph Planta, on the authority of
  Miss Planta, that Mrs. Schwellenberg was so despotic that she was
  better served, and more attended to than the Queen herself. Her
  servant always waited at the step of her door that she might not have
  to ring a bell; and a very constant expression of hers was, that if
  such and such a thing was good enough for her Majesty, it was not good
  enough for _her_.’—Jesse’s ‘George III.,’ vol. ii., App., p. 539.

Footnote 83:

  ‘I flatter myself _you_ will never be royally gagged and promoted to
  fold muslins, as has been lately wittily said on Miss Burney, in the
  List of five hundred living authors.’—Walpole to Hannah More, July 12,

Footnote 84:

  ‘Diary,’ vol. iii., p. 245.


                              CHAPTER VII.

The Trial of Warren Hastings—Westminster Hall—Description of it on the
  Opening Day of the Trial—Edmund Burke—The other Managers—Procession of
  the Peers—Entrance of the Defendant—The Arraignment—Speech of Lord
  Chancellor Thurlow—Reply of Warren Hastings—Opening of the Trial—Mr.
  Windham—His Admiration of Dr. Johnson—His Reflections on the
  Spectacle—Bearing of the Lord Chancellor—Windham on Hastings—William
  Pitt—Major Scott—Conversation with Windham—Partisanship—Close of the
  First Day’s Proceedings—Conference on it with the Queen—Another Day at
  the Trial—Burke’s Great Speech—Resemblance between Hastings and
  Windham—Fox’s Eloquence—Death of Mrs. Delany.

On the 13th of February, 1788, began the trial of Warren Hastings. Miss
Burney was furnished by the Queen with two tickets for the opening
ceremony. She went accordingly, accompanied by her brother Charles, and
also by a Miss Gomme, of whom she was commanded to undertake the charge.
We abridge her description of this great spectacle. It should be
premised that the zeal with which she espoused the side of the defence
was due not solely to the favour shown to Mr. and Mrs. Hastings by the
Court, but in an equal degree, at least, to her own personal friendship
for the accused statesman and his wife, with whom she had become
acquainted before she joined the royal service:

  “We got to Westminster Hall between nine and ten o’clock....

  “The Grand Chamberlain’s Box is in the centre of the upper end of the
  Hall: there we sat, Miss Gomme and myself, immediately behind the
  chair placed for Sir Peter Burrell. To the left, on the same level,
  were the green benches for the House of Commons, which occupied a
  third of the upper end of the Hall, and the whole of the left side: to
  the right of us, on the same level, was the Grand Chamberlain’s

  “The bottom of the Hall contained the Royal Family’s Box and the Lord
  High Steward’s....

  “A gallery also was run along the left side of the Hall, above the
  green benches, which is called the Duke of Newcastle’s Box, the centre
  of which was railed off into a separate apartment for the reception of
  the Queen and four eldest Princesses, who were then _incog._, not
  choosing to appear in state, and in their own Box.

  “In the middle of the floor was placed a large table, and at the head
  of it the seat for the Chancellor, and round it seats for the Judges,
  the Masters in Chancery, the Clerks, and all who belonged to the Law;
  the upper end, and the right side of the room, was allotted to the
  Peers in their robes; the left side to the Bishops and Archbishops.

  “Immediately below the Great Chamberlain’s Box was the place allotted
  for the Prisoner. On his right side was a box for his own Counsel, on
  his left the Box for the Managers, or Committee, for the Prosecution;
  and these three most important of all the divisions in the Hall were
  all directly adjoining to where I was seated....

  “The business did not begin till near twelve o’clock. The opening to
  the whole then took place, by the entrance of the _Managers of the
  Prosecution_; all the company were already long in their boxes or

  “I shuddered, and drew involuntarily back, when, as the doors were
  flung open, I saw Mr. Burke, as Head of the Committee, make his solemn
  entry. He held a scroll in his hand, and walked alone, his brow knit
  with corroding care and deep labouring thought—a brow how different to
  that which had proved so alluring to my warmest admiration when first
  I met him! so highly as he had been my favourite, so captivating as I
  had found his manners and conversation in our first acquaintance, and
  so much as I owed to his zeal and kindness to me and my affairs in its
  progress! How did I grieve to behold him now the cruel Prosecutor
  (such to me he appeared) of an injured and innocent man!

  “Mr. Fox followed next, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Windham, Messrs. Anstruther,
  Grey, Adam, Michael Angelo Taylor, Pelham, Colonel North, Mr.
  Frederick Montagu, Sir Gilbert Elliot, General Burgoyne, Dudley Long,

  “When the Committee Box was filled, the House of Commons at large took
  their seats on their green benches....

  “Then began the procession, the Clerks entering first, then the
  Lawyers according to their rank, and the Peers, Bishops, and Officers,
  all in their coronation robes; concluding with the Princes of the
  Blood,—Prince William, son to the Duke of Gloucester, coming first,
  then the Dukes of Cumberland, Gloucester, and York, then the Prince of
  Wales; and the whole ending by the Chancellor, with his train borne.

  “They then all took their seats.

  “A Serjeant-at-Arms arose, and commanded silence....

  “Then some other officer, in a loud voice, called out, as well as I
  can recollect, words to this purpose:—‘Warren Hastings, Esquire, come
  forth! Answer to the charges brought against you; save your bail, or
  forfeit your recognizance!’

  “Indeed I trembled at these words, and hardly could keep my place when
  I found Mr. Hastings was being brought to the bar. He came forth from
  some place immediately under the Great Chamberlain’s Box, and was
  preceded by Sir Francis Molyneux, Usher of the Black Rod; and at each
  side of him walked his Bails, Messrs. Sullivan and Sumner.

  “The moment he came in sight, which was not for full ten minutes after
  his awful summons, he made a low bow to the Chancellor and Court
  facing him. I saw not his face, as he was directly under me. He moved
  on slowly, and, I think, supported between his two Bails, to the
  opening of his own Box; there, lower still, he bowed again; and then,
  advancing to the bar, he leant his hands upon it, and dropped on his
  knees; but a voice in the same moment proclaiming he had leave to
  rise, he stood up almost instantaneously, and a third time profoundly
  bowed to the Court.

  “What an awful moment this for such a man!—a man fallen from such a
  height of power to a situation so humiliating—from the almost
  unlimited command of so large a part of the Eastern World to be cast
  at the feet of his enemies, of the great tribunal of his country, and
  of the nation at large, assembled thus in a body to try and to judge
  him! Could even his prosecutors at that moment look on—and not shudder
  at least, if they did not blush?

  “The crier, I think it was, made, in a loud and hollow voice, a public
  proclamation, ‘That Warren Hastings, Esquire, late Governor-General of
  Bengal, was now on his trial for high crimes and misdemeanours, with
  which he was charged by the Commons of Great Britain; and that all
  persons whatsoever who had aught to allege against him were now to
  stand forth.’

  “A general silence followed, and the Chancellor, Lord Thurlow, now
  made his speech....

  “Again Mr. Hastings made the lowest reverence to the Court, and,
  leaning over the bar, answered, with much agitation, through evident
  efforts to suppress it, ‘My Lords—impressed—deeply impressed—I come
  before your Lordships, equally confident in my own integrity, and in
  the justice of the Court before which I am to clear it.’...

  “A general silence again ensued, and then one of the lawyers opened
  the cause. He began by reading from an immense roll of parchment the
  general charges against Mr. Hastings, but he read in so monotonous a
  chant that nothing else could I hear or understand than now and then
  the name of Warren Hastings.

  “During this reading, to which I vainly lent all my attention, Mr.
  Hastings, finding it, I presume, equally impossible to hear a word,
  began to cast his eyes around the House, and having taken a survey of
  all in front and at the sides, he turned about and looked up; pale
  looked his face—pale, ill, and altered. I was much affected by the
  sight of that dreadful harass which was written on his countenance.
  Had I looked at him without restraint, it could not have been without
  tears. I felt shocked, too, shocked and ashamed, to be seen by him in
  that place. I had wished to be present from an earnest interest in the
  business, joined to firm confidence in his powers of defence; but
  _his_ eyes were not those I wished to meet in Westminster Hall....

  “Another lawyer now arose, and read so exactly in the same manner,
  that it was utterly impossible to discover even whether it was a
  charge or an answer.

  “Such reading as this, you may well suppose, set everybody pretty much
  at their ease; and but for the interest I took in looking from time to
  time at Mr. Hastings, and watching his countenance, I might as well
  have been away. He seemed composed after the first half-hour, and
  calm; but he looked with a species of indignant contempt towards his
  accusers, that could not, I think, have been worn had his defence been
  doubtful. Many there are who fear for him; for me, I own myself wholly
  confident in his acquittal....

  “At length I was called by a ‘How d’ye do, Miss Burney?’ from the
  Committee Box! And then I saw young Mr. Burke, who had jumped up on
  the nearest form to speak to me. Pleasant enough! I checked my
  vexation as well as I was able, since the least shyness on my part to
  those with whom formerly I had been social must instantly have been
  attributed to Court influence; and therefore, since I could not avoid
  the notice, I did what I could to talk with him as heretofore. He is,
  besides, so amiable a young man, that I could not be sorry to see him
  again, though I regretted it should be just in that place, and at this

  “The moment I was able to withdraw from young Mr. Burke, Charles, who
  sat behind me, leant down and told me a gentleman had just desired to
  be presented to me.

  “‘Who?’ quoth I.

  “‘Mr. Windham,’ he answered.

  “‘I really thought he was laughing, and answered accordingly; but he
  assured me he was in earnest, and that Mr. Windham had begged him to
  make the proposition. What could I do? There was no refusing: yet a
  planned meeting with another of the Committee, and one deep in the
  prosecution, and from whom one of the hardest charges has come—could
  anything be less pleasant as I was then situated?

  “The Great Chamberlain’s Box is the only part of the hall that has any
  communication with either the Committee Box or the House of Commons,
  and it is also the very nearest to the prisoner. Mr. Windham I had
  seen twice before—both times at Miss Monckton’s; and anywhere else I
  should have been much gratified by his desire of a third meeting, as
  he is one of the most agreeable, spirited, well-bred, and brilliant
  conversers I have ever spoken with. He is a neighbour, too, now, of
  Charlotte’s. He is member for Norwich, and a man of family and
  fortune, with a very pleasing, though not handsome face, a very
  elegant figure, and an air of fashion and vivacity....

  “I was sorry to see him make one of a set that appeared so inveterate
  against a man I believe so injuriously treated; and my concern was
  founded upon the good thoughts I had conceived of him, not merely from
  his social talents, which are yet very uncommon, but from a reason
  dearer to my remembrance. He loved Dr. Johnson—and Dr. Johnson
  returned his affection. Their political principles and connexions were
  opposite, but Mr. Windham respected his venerable friend too highly to
  discuss any points that could offend him; and showed for him so true a
  regard, that, during all his late illnesses, for the latter part of
  his life, his carriage and himself were alike at his service, to air,
  visit, or go out, whenever he was disposed to accept them.

  “Nor was this all; one tender proof he gave of warm and generous
  regard, that I can never forget, and that rose instantly to my mind
  when I heard his name, and gave him a welcome in my eyes when they met
  his face. It is this: Dr. Johnson, in his last visit to Lichfield, was
  taken ill, and waited to recover strength for travelling back to town
  in his usual vehicle, a stage-coach. As soon as this reached the ears
  of Mr. Windham, he set off for Lichfield in his own carriage, to offer
  to bring him back to town in it, and at his own time....

  “Charles soon told me he was at my elbow....

  “After the first compliments he looked around him, and exclaimed,
  ‘What an assembly is this! How striking a _spectacle_! I had not seen
  half its splendour down there. You have it here to great advantage;
  you lose some of the Lords, but you gain all the Ladies. You have a
  very good place here.’

  “‘Yes; and I may safely say I make a very impartial use of it: for
  since here I have sat, I have never discovered to which side I have
  been listening!’

  “He laughed, but told me they were then running through the charges.

  “‘And is it essential,’ cried I, ‘that they should so run them through
  that nobody can understand them? Is that a form of law?’

  “He agreed to the absurdity; and then, looking still at the
  _spectacle_, which indeed is the most splendid I ever saw, arrested
  his eyes upon the Chancellor. ‘He looks very well from hence,’ cried
  he; ‘and how well he acquits himself on these solemn occasions! With
  what dignity, what loftiness, what high propriety, he comports

  “Suddenly, his eye dropped down upon poor Mr. Hastings: the expression
  of his face instantly lost the gaiety and ease with which it had
  addressed me; he stopped short in his remarks; he fixed his eyes
  steadfastly on this new, and but too interesting object, and after
  viewing him some time in a sort of earnest silence, he suddenly
  exclaimed, as if speaking to himself, and from an impulse
  irresistible—‘What a sight is that! to see that man, that small
  portion of human clay, that poor feeble machine of earth, enclosed now
  in that little space, brought to that Bar, a prisoner in a spot six
  foot square—and to reflect on his late power! Nations at his command!
  Princes prostrate at his feet!—What a change! how must he feel it!——’

  “He stopped, and I said not a word. I was glad to see him thus
  impressed; I hoped it might soften his enmity. I found, by his manner,
  that he had never, from the Committee Box, looked at him....

  “Recovering, now, from the strong emotion with which the sight of Mr.
  Hastings had filled him, he looked again around the Court, and pointed
  out several of the principal characters present, with arch and
  striking remarks upon each of them, all uttered with high spirit, but
  none with ill-nature.

  “‘Pitt,’ cried he, ‘is not here!—a noble stroke that for the annals of
  his administration! A trial is brought on by the whole House of
  Commons in a body, and he is absent at the very opening! However,’
  added he, with a very meaning laugh, ‘I’m glad of it, for ’tis to his
  eternal disgrace!’

  “Mercy! thought I, what a friend to kindness is party!

  “‘Do you see Scott?’ cried he.

  “‘No, I never saw him; pray show him me.’

  “‘There he is, in green; just now by the Speaker, now moved by the
  Committee; in two minutes more he will be somewhere else, skipping
  backwards and forwards; what a grasshopper it is!’

  “‘I cannot look at him,’ cried I, ‘without recollecting a very
  extraordinary letter from him, that I read last summer in the
  newspaper, where he answers some attack that he says has been made
  upon him, because the term is used of “a very insignificant fellow;”
  and he printed two or three letters in the Public Advertiser, in
  following days, to prove, with great care and pains, that he knew it
  was all meant as an abuse of himself, from those words!’

  “‘And what,’ cried he, laughing, ‘do you say to that notion now you
  see him?’

  “‘That no one,’ cried I, examining him with my glass, ‘can possibly
  dispute his claim!’

  “What pity that Mr. Hastings should have trusted his cause to so
  frivolous an agent! I believe, and indeed it is the general belief,
  both of foes and friends, that to his officious and injudicious zeal
  the present prosecution is wholly owing.”

A long conversation—or rather several conversations, for the talk was
interrupted more than once—ensued, in the course of which Miss Burney,
much to the astonishment of Windham, who knew her friendship for Burke,
declared herself a partisan of Hastings, while at the same time she
admitted that she knew nothing of the merits of the case—had not even
read the charges against the late Governor-General. “I had afterwards,”
she writes, “to relate a great part of this to the Queen herself. She
saw me engaged in such close discourse, and with such apparent interest
on both sides, with Mr. Windham, that I knew she must else form
conjectures innumerable. So candid, so liberal is the mind of the Queen,
that she not only heard me with the most favourable attention towards
Mr. Windham, but was herself touched even to tears by the relation. We
stayed but a short time after this last conference; for nothing more was
attempted than reading over the charges and answers, in the same useless

Miss Burney went again to Westminster Hall on the second day of Burke’s
opening speech:

  “All I had heard of his eloquence, and all I had conceived of his
  great abilities, was more than answered by his performance. Nervous,
  clear, and striking was almost all that he uttered: the main business,
  indeed, of his coming forth was frequently neglected, and not seldom
  wholly lost; but his excursions were so fanciful, so entertaining, and
  so ingenious, that no miscellaneous hearer, like myself, could blame
  them. It is true he was unequal, but his inequality produced an effect
  which, in so long a speech, was perhaps preferable to greater
  consistency, since, though it lost attention in its falling off, it
  recovered it with additional energy by some ascent unexpected and
  wonderful. When he narrated, he was easy, flowing, and natural; when
  he declaimed, energetic, warm, and brilliant. The sentiments he
  interspersed were as nobly conceived as they were highly coloured; his
  satire had a poignancy of wit that made it as entertaining as it was
  penetrating; his allusions and quotations, as far as they were English
  and within my reach, were apt and ingenious; and the wild and sudden
  flights of his fancy, bursting forth from his creative imagination in
  language fluent, forcible, and varied, had a charm for my ear and my
  attention wholly new and perfectly irresistible.”

She was again visited in her box by Windham, who, on Hastings happening
to look up, remarked that he did not like his countenance. “I could have
told him,” says Fanny, “that he is reckoned extremely like himself; but
after such an observation I would not venture, and only said: ‘Indeed,
he is extremely altered: it was not so he looked when I conceived for
him that prepossession I have owned to you.’” The Queen’s reporter, for
such she was, attended a third time on the day after the Lords had
enraged the Managers by deciding that they must complete their case upon
all the charges before the accused was called on for any defence. She
heard Mr. Fox speak for five hours with a violence that did not make her
forget what she was told of his being in a fury. His eloquence was not
nearly so much to her taste as Burke’s. Fox’s countenance struck her as
hard and callous; his violence, she thought, had that sort of monotony
that seemed to result from its being factitious, and she felt less
pardon for that than for any extravagance in Mr. Burke, whose excesses
seemed at least to be unaffected and sincere. Mr. Fox appeared to her to
have no such excuse; ‘he looked all good-humour and negligent ease the
instant before he began a speech of uninterrupted passion and vehemence,
and he wore the same careless and disengaged air the very instant he had
finished.’ After other attendances at the trial, Miss Burney’s mind was
withdrawn from the subject in which she took so much interest by the
last illness and death of Mrs. Delany. The old lady, who died on the
15th of April, 1788, left some small remembrances to the friend whose
companionship had soothed her latter days.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

The King’s Health—Royal Visit to Cheltenham—Excursions—Robert Raikes—
  Colonel Digby—The Duke of York—The Court attends the Musical Festival
  at Worcester—Return to Windsor—M. de Lalande, the Astronomer—His
  Compliments—His Volubility—Illness of the King—The King grows worse—
  ‘The Queen is my Physician’—Alarm and Agitation—Grief of the Queen—The
  King Insane—Arrival of the Prince of Wales—Paroxysm of the King at
  Dinner—The Queen Ill—The Physicians—The Royal Pair separated—The
  Prince takes the Government at the Palace—Prayers for the King’s
  Recovery—The King and his Equerries—Sir Lucas Pepys—A Privy Council—
  Preparations for leaving Windsor—Departure for Kew—Mournful Spectacle—
  Mrs. Schwellenberg arrives.

For many years George III. had enjoyed unbroken good health. ‘The King,’
wrote a well-informed gossipper[85] in January, 1788, ‘walks twelve
miles on his way from Windsor to London, which is more than the Prince
of Wales can do.’ Early in June, however, his Majesty was disturbed by
passing symptoms, which proved to be fore-runners of an illness famous
in English history. The complaint, in its first stage, was called a
bilious attack; and when the patient appeared to have thrown it off, he
was advised by his physician to drink the waters at Cheltenham for a
month, in order to complete his recovery. On June 8, the King sent his
old friend Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, a letter, in which he
announced his intended journey into Gloucestershire; and, at the same
time, proposed to enlarge his excursion by paying a visit to Hartlebury,
and afterwards attending the Festival of the Three Choirs, which that
year was to be held at Worcester. His Majesty went on to say that, as
feeding the hungry was a Christian duty, he should expect his
correspondent, while welcoming the sovereign to his cathedral city, to
provide some cold meat for his refreshment.

The hearty old English gentleman, in fact, was minded to enjoy his
holiday in the homely way that pleased him best. On July 12, the Court
travelled from Windsor to Cheltenham, where Bays Hill Lodge, a seat of
the Earl of Fauconberg, situated just outside the town, had been engaged
for the royal party. The Lodge was so small that their Majesties, with
the three eldest Princesses who accompanied them, could only be housed
there at a considerable sacrifice of state and ceremony. No bed could be
provided within its walls for any male person but the King. The female
attendants on the Queen and her daughters were limited to one
lady-in-waiting, Miss Burney, Miss Planta, and the wardrobe women.

‘Is _this_ little room for your Majesty?’ exclaimed Fanny, in

‘Stay till you see your own,’ retorted the Queen, laughing, ‘before you
call this little.’

Colonel Gwynn, the King’s equerry, and Colonel Digby, the Queen’s
vice-chamberlain, slept in a house at some distance. The Queen consented
to dine with these officers, though until then the German etiquette in
which she was trained had prevented her from sitting at table with men
of much higher rank.

During his stay at Cheltenham, the King drank the waters at six o’clock
every morning, and afterwards took exercise in the ‘Walks.’ This parade
was conducted in the same manner as the terracing at Windsor. The King
led the way, with the Queen leaning on his arm; the Princesses followed
them; and the equerry brought up the rear. The unaccustomed spectacle
drew crowds from the town and the country round, causing at first a good
deal of inconvenience, which the King bore with his usual good-nature.
In the course of July, he made excursions with his family to several
places of interest in the neighbourhood: to Oakley Grove, the seat of
Lord Bathurst, patron of Pope and Prior, and friend of Bolingbroke and
Atterbury; to the Abbey Church of Tewkesbury; to Gloucester Cathedral;
to Croome Court, the abode of Lord Coventry and his beautiful Countess.

Miss Burney and Miss Planta were not of the suite on these expeditions,
and altogether enjoyed much more liberty than fell to their lot at
Windsor or Kew. Sometimes they amused themselves by making little
excursions on their own account. On the day of the royal visit to Oakley
Grove, they went over to Gloucester, where Miss Planta had an
acquaintance in the person of the philanthropic printer, Robert Raikes,
still remembered as the originator of Sunday-schools. Mr. Raikes felt
himself a man of importance; he had been invited to Windsor, and had had
the honour of a long conversation with the Queen. Apparently the notice
taken of him had left traces on his manner. ‘He is somewhat too
flourishing,’ Fanny whispered to her Diary, ‘somewhat too forward,
somewhat too voluble; but he is worthy, benevolent, good-natured, and
good-hearted, and therefore the over-flowings of successful spirits and
delighted vanity must meet with some allowance.’ Bating this little
self-complacency, the good man proved himself a capital host and guide,
entertaining the royal attendants in a handsome and painstaking manner,
which obtained their warm acknowledgments.

But Miss Burney beguiled her leisure principally in improving her
acquaintance with Colonel Digby, who paid her marked attention during
their attendance at the Gloucestershire watering-place. This courteous,
insinuating colonel suited her taste far better than the more
soldier-like equerries whom she met at Court. She had conceived a
decided inclination for him from the moment of his first introduction to
her. ‘He is a man,’ she then wrote, ‘of the most scrupulous
good-breeding; diffident, gentle, and sentimental in his conversation,
and assiduously attentive in his manners.’ He had now the additional
recommendation that belongs to a widower grieving over joys departed,
yet not despairing of consolation. In this state of mind, he neglected
no opportunity of making himself agreeable to a lady whose disposition
was so congenial to his own. Even a fit of the gout, which detained him
from his official duties, could not prevent him from limping over to the
Lodge to sit with Miss Burney. They talked of many things, but chiefly
of books, of the affections, of happiness, and of religion. The famous
authoress astonished her admirer not a little by the discovery she was
fain to make of the many books she had never yet read. Her candour
encouraged him to produce his own stores of literature, which were much
more extensive than hers. This pensive gentleman, we need scarcely say,
was addicted to reciting poetry and passages of pious sentiment. One
line especially, which was often in his mouth, about ‘the chastity of
silent woe,’ Fanny found peculiarly beautiful, though it might have
reminded her of the Irish Commissary whom she had met at Brighton. Very
soon quotations were succeeded by readings. The pair studied together
Akenside’s poems, Falconer’s ‘Shipwreck,’ Carr’s Sermons, and a work[86]
entitled ‘Original Love-Letters,’ with which we own ourselves
unacquainted. Presently, however, as the air of Cheltenham did not
appear to suit the Colonel’s gout, he began to think of taking leave of

A visit from the Duke of York was expected while the Court was at
Cheltenham. So eager was the King for the society of this his favourite
son, that he caused a portable wooden house to be moved from the further
end of the town, and joined on to Bays Hill Lodge, for the reception of
the Prince and his attendants. The work consumed much time and money,
but the fond father was bent on lodging his Frederick close to himself.
All this care and affection met with the too familiar return. The Duke
arrived on August 1, according to his appointment; and Miss Burney
describes the King’s joy as only less extreme than the transport he had
shown when, a year before, she had seen the darling appear at Windsor
after long absence in Germany. But the Prince, so much looked for, would
remain no more than a single night. Military business, he declared,
required him to be in London by the next day but one, which was Sunday;
however, he would travel all Saturday night that he might be able to
spend a second evening with his parents. ‘I wonder,’ cried Colonel
Digby, with the sententious propriety which charmed our Fanny, ‘how
these Princes, who are thus forced to steal even their travelling from
their sleep, find time to say their prayers!’

On August 5 the Court visited Worcester for the purpose of attending the
Musical Festival. When the royal _cortége_ stopped at the Bishop’s
palace, “the King had an huzza that seemed to vibrate through the whole
town, the Princess Royal’s carriage had a second, and the equerries a
third. The mob then,” proceeds the Diary, “as ours drew on in
succession, seemed to deliberate whether or not we also should have a
cheer; but one of them soon decided the matter by calling out, ‘These
are the maids of honour!’ and immediately gave us an huzza that made us
quite ashamed.” The opening performance of the Festival next morning did
not much gratify the historian. ‘It was very long and intolerably
tedious, consisting of Handel’s gravest pieces and fullest choruses, and
concluding with a sermon, concerning the institution of the charity,
preached by Dr. Langhorne.’[87] A second morning performance to which
she went did not strike her more favourably. One of the evening concerts
she liked better. Of another she observes that it ‘was very Handelian,
though not exclusively so.’

At the close of the Festival the royal party and their suite returned to
Cheltenham. On the same evening Colonel Digby took his departure,
‘leaving me,’ says Fanny, ‘firmly impressed with a belief that I shall
find in him a true, an honourable, and even an affectionate friend for
life.’ Next day an express came from him with a letter for Miss Burney,
begging her to inform the Queen that the Mastership of St. Katharine’s
Hospital, which was in her Majesty’s gift, had just become void by the
death of the occupant. In a few more days it was announced that the
vacant appointment had been conferred on Mr. Digby.

By August 16, the Court was again established at Windsor, and a rumour
began to circulate of the Colonel’s gallantry at Cheltenham, mingled
with a second rumour of his being then confined by gout at a house where
lived Miss Gunning, for whom he had been supposed to have an admiration.
Both reports were disregarded by Mrs. Schwellenberg’s assistant, who
could think of nothing but the change from the pleasant society which
she had lately enjoyed to the arrogance, the contentiousness, the
presuming ignorance, that assailed her in the hated dining-room at the
Queen’s Lodge. ‘What scales,’ she wrote, ‘could have held and weighed
the heart of F. B. as she drove past the door of her revered lost
comforter, to enter the apartment inhabited by such qualities!’

One strange visitor, however, she had at starting, who provided her with
some little amusement:

  “AUGUST 18TH.—Well, now I have a new personage to introduce to you,
  and no small one; ask else the stars, moon and planets! While I was
  surrounded with band-boxes, and unpacking, Dr. Shepherd[88] was
  announced. Eager to make his compliments on the safe return, he forced
  a passage through the back avenues and stairs, for he told me he did
  not like being seen coming to me at the front door, as it might create
  some jealousies amongst the other Canons! A very commendable
  circumspection! but whether for my sake or his own he did not

  “M. de Lalande, he said, the famous astronomer, was just arrived in
  England, and now at Windsor, and he had expressed a desire to be
  introduced to me....

  “His business was to settle bringing M. de Lalande to see me in the
  evening. I told him I was much honoured, and so forth, but that I
  received no evening company, as I was officially engaged. He had made
  the appointment, he said, and could not break it, without affronting
  him; besides, he gave me to understand it would be an honour to me for
  ever to be visited by so great an astronomer....

  “In the midst of tea, with a room full of people, I was called out to
  Dr. Shepherd!... I hurried into the next room, where I found him with
  his friend, M. de Lalande. What a reception awaited me! how unexpected
  a one from a famed and great astronomer! M. de Lalande advanced to
  meet me—I will not be quite positive it was on tiptoe, but certainly
  with a mixture of jerk and strut that could not be quite flat-footed.
  He kissed his hand with the air of a _petit maître_, and then broke
  forth into such an harangue of Eloges, so solemn with regard to its
  own weight and importance, and so _fade_ with respect to the little
  personage addressed, that I could not help thinking it lucky for the
  planets, stars, and sun, they were not bound to hear his comments,
  though obliged to undergo his calculations.

  “On my part sundry profound reverences with now and then an ‘_Oh,
  monsieur!_’ or ‘_c’est trop d’honneur_,’ acquitted me so well, that
  the first harangue being finished, on the score of general and grand
  reputation, Eloge the second began, on the excellence with which
  ‘_cette célèbre demoiselle_’ spoke French!

  “This may surprise you, my dear friends; but you must consider M. de
  Lalande is a great _discoverer_.

  “Well, but had you seen Dr. Shepherd! he looked lost in sleek delight
  and wonder, that a person to whom he had introduced M. de Lalande
  should be an object for such fine speeches.

  “This gentleman’s figure, meanwhile, corresponds no better with his
  discourse than his scientific profession, for he is an ugly little
  wrinkled old man, with a fine showy waistcoat, rich lace ruffles, and
  the grimaces of a dentist. I believe he chose to display that a
  Frenchman of science could be also a man of gallantry.

  “I was seated between them, but the good doctor made no greater
  interruption to the florid professor than I did myself: he only
  grinned applause, with placid, but ineffable satisfaction.

  “Nothing therefore intervening, _Eloge_ the third followed, after a
  pause no longer than might be necessary for due admiration of _Eloge_
  the second. This had for _sujet_ the fair female sex; how the ladies
  were now all improved; how they could write, and read, and spell; how
  a man nowadays might talk with them and be understood, and how
  delightful it was to see such pretty creatures turned rational!

  “And all this, of course, interspersed with particular observations
  and most pointed applications; nor was there in the whole string of
  compliments which made up the three _bouquets_, one single one amongst
  them that might have disgraced any _petit maître_ to utter, or any
  _petite maîtresse_ to hear.

  “The third being ended, a rather longer pause ensued. I believe he was
  dry, but I offered him no tea. I would not voluntarily be accessory to
  detaining such great personages from higher avocations. I wished him
  next to go and study the stars; from the moon he seemed so lately
  arrived there was little occasion for another journey.

  “I flatter myself he was of the same opinion, for the fourth _Eloge_
  was all upon his unhappiness in tearing himself away from so much
  merit, and ended in as many bows as had accompanied his entrance.

  “I suppose, in going, he said, with a shrug, to the Canon, ‘_M. le
  Docteur, c’est bien gênant, mais il faut dire des jolies choses aux

  “He was going the next day to see Dr. Maskelyne’s[89] Observatory.
  Well! I have had him first in mine!”

The King, at his return to Windsor, appeared to be restored to his usual
health. In less than two months, however, he was again out of order. We
give the most noteworthy passage in Miss Burney’s account of his
subsequent illness as it fell under her observation. She was doing
double duty at this time, in the absence of Mrs. Schwellenberg, who had
gone to Weymouth for her health. The Court was at Kew when the first
apprehensions arose:

  “OCTOBER 17TH.—Our return to Windsor is postponed till to-morrow. The
  King is not well; he has not been quite well some time, yet nothing I
  hope alarming, though there is an uncertainty as to his complaint not
  very satisfactory.

  “19TH.—The Windsor journey is again postponed, and the King is but
  very indifferent. Heaven preserve him! there is something unspeakably
  alarming in his smallest indisposition. I am very much with the Queen,
  who, I see, is very uneasy, but she talks not of it.

  “20TH.—The King was taken very ill in the night, and we have all been
  cruelly frightened; but it went off, and, thank Heaven! he is now

  “25TH.—The King was so much better, that our Windsor journey at length
  took place, with permission of Sir George Baker,[90] the only
  physician his Majesty will admit.

  “I had a sort of conference with his Majesty, or rather I was the
  object to whom he spoke, with a manner so uncommon, that a high fever
  alone could account for it; a rapidity, a hoarseness of voice, a
  volubility, an earnestness—a vehemence, rather—it startled me
  inexpressibly, yet with a graciousness exceeding all I ever met with
  before—it was almost kindness! Heaven—Heaven preserve him! The Queen
  grows more and more uneasy. She alarms me sometimes for herself; at
  other times she has a sedateness that wonders me still more.

  “SUNDAY, OCT. 26TH.—The King was prevailed upon not to go to chapel
  this morning. I met him in the passage from the Queen’s room; he
  stopped me, and conversed upon his health near half an hour, still
  with that extreme quickness of speech and manner that belongs to
  fever; and he hardly sleeps, he tells me, one minute all night;
  indeed, if he recovers not his rest, a most delirious fever seems to
  threaten him. He is all agitation, all emotion, yet all benevolence
  and goodness, even to a degree that makes it touching to hear him
  speak. He assures everybody of his health; he seems only fearful to
  give uneasiness to others, yet certainly he is better than last night.
  Nobody speaks of his illness, nor what they think of it.

  “NOVEMBER 1ST.—Our King does not advance in amendment; he grows so
  weak that he walks like a gouty man, yet has such spirits that he has
  talked away his voice, and is so hoarse it is painful to hear him. The
  Queen is evidently in great uneasiness. God send him better!...

  “During the reading this morning, twice, at pathetic passages, my poor
  Queen shed tears. ‘How nervous I am!’ she cried; ‘I am quite a fool!
  Don’t you think so?’

  “‘No, ma’am!’ was all I dared answer.

  “The King was hunting. Her anxiety for his return was greater than
  ever. The moment he arrived he sent a page to desire to have coffee
  and take his bark in the Queen’s dressing-room. She said she would
  pour it out herself, and sent to inquire how he drank it.

  “The King is very sensible of the great change there is in himself,
  and of her disturbance at it. It seems, but Heaven avert it! a threat
  of a total breaking up of the constitution. This, too, seems his own
  idea. I was present at his first seeing Lady Effingham on his return
  to Windsor this last time. ‘My dear Effy,’ he cried, ‘you see me, all
  at once, an old man.’

  “I was so much affected by this exclamation, that I wished to run out
  of the room. Yet I could not but recover when Lady Effingham, in her
  well-meaning but literal way, composedly answered, ‘We must all grow
  old, sir; I am sure I do.’

  “He then produced a walking-stick which he had just ordered. ‘He could
  not,’ he said, ‘get on without it; his strength seemed diminishing

  “He took the bark, he said; ‘but the _Queen_’ he cried, ‘is my
  physician, and no man need have a better; she is my _Friend_, and no
  man _can_ have a better.’

  “How the Queen commanded herself I cannot conceive.... Nor can I ever
  forget him in what passed this night. When I came to the Queen’s
  dressing-room he was still with her. He constantly conducts her to it
  before he retires to his own. He was begging her not to speak to him
  when he got to his room, that he might fall asleep, as he felt great
  want of that refreshment. He repeated this desire, I believe, at least
  a hundred times, though, far enough from needing it, the poor Queen
  never uttered one syllable; He then applied to me, saying he was
  really very well, except in that one particular, that he could not

  “3RD.—We are all here in a most uneasy state. The King is better and
  worse so frequently, and changes so, daily, backwards and forwards,
  that everything is to be apprehended, if his nerves are not some way
  quieted. I dreadfully fear he is on the eve of some severe fever. The
  Queen is almost overpowered with some secret terror. I am affected
  beyond all expression in her presence, to see what struggles she makes
  to support serenity. To-day she gave up the conflict when I was alone
  with her, and burst into a violent fit of tears. It was very, very
  terrible to see!...

  “5TH.—I found my poor Royal Mistress, in the morning, sad and sadder
  still; something horrible seemed impending....

  “I was still wholly unsuspicious of the greatness of the cause she had
  for dread. Illness, a breaking up of the constitution, the payment of
  sudden infirmity and premature old age for the waste of unguarded
  health and strength—these seemed to me the threats awaiting her; and
  great and grievous enough, yet how short of the fact!...

  “At noon the King went out in his chaise, with the Princess Royal, for
  an airing. I looked from my window to see him; he was all smiling
  benignity, but gave so many orders to the postilions, and got in and
  out of the carriage twice, with such agitation, that again my fear of
  a great fever hanging over him grew more and more powerful. Alas! how
  little did I imagine I should see him no more for so long—so black a

  “When I went to my poor Queen, still worse and worse I found her

  “The Princess Royal soon returned. She came in cheerfully, and gave,
  in German, a history of the airing, and one that seemed comforting.

  “Soon after, suddenly arrived the Prince of Wales. He came into the
  room. He had just quitted Brighthelmstone. Something passing within
  seemed to render this meeting awfully distant on both sides. She asked
  if he should not return to Brighthelmstone? He answered yes, the next
  day. He desired to speak with her; they retired together....

  “Only Miss Planta dined with me. We were both nearly silent: I was
  shocked at I scarcely knew what, and she seemed to know too much for
  speech. She stayed with me till six o’clock, but nothing passed,
  beyond general solicitude that the King might get better.

  “Meanwhile, a stillness the most uncommon reigned over the whole
  house. Nobody stirred; not a voice was heard; not a motion. I could do
  nothing but watch, without knowing for what: there seemed a
  strangeness in the house most extraordinary.

  “At seven o’clock Columb came to tell me that the music was all
  forbid, and the musicians ordered away!

  “This was the last step to be expected, so fond as his Majesty is of
  his concert, and I thought it might have rather soothed him: I could
  not understand the prohibition; all seemed stranger and stranger.”

One after another, the usual evening visitors made their appearance.
First the equerries, and then Colonel Digby, who had reached the palace
that afternoon, came in to tea. “Various small speeches now dropped, by
which I found the house was all in disturbance, and the King in some
strange way worse, and the Queen taken ill!” Presently the whole truth
was divulged. “The King, at dinner, had broken forth into positive
delirium, which long had been menacing all who saw him most closely; and
the Queen was so overpowered as to fall into violent hysterics. All the
Princesses were in misery, and the Prince of Wales had burst into tears.
No one knew what was to follow—no one could conjecture the event.”

At ten o’clock, Miss Burney went to her own room to be in readiness for
her usual summons to the Queen:

  “Two long hours I waited—alone, in silence, in ignorance, in dread! I
  thought they would never be over; at twelve o’clock I seemed to have
  spent two whole days in waiting.... I then opened my door, to listen,
  in the passage, if anything seemed stirring. Not a sound could I hear.
  My apartment seemed wholly separated from life and motion. Whoever was
  in the house kept at the other end, and not even a servant crossed the
  stairs or passage by my rooms.

  “I would fain have crept on myself, anywhere in the world, for some
  inquiry, or to see but a face, and hear a voice, but I did not dare
  risk losing a sudden summons.

  “I re-entered my room, and there passed another endless hour, in
  conjectures too horrible to relate.

  “A little after one, I heard a step—my door opened—and a page said I
  must come to the Queen.

  “I could hardly get along—hardly force myself into the room; dizzy I
  felt, almost to falling. But the first shock passed, I became more
  collected. Useful, indeed, proved the previous lesson of the evening:
  it had stilled, if not mortified my mind, which had else, in a scene
  such as this, been all tumult and emotion.

  “My poor Royal Mistress! never can I forget her countenance—pale,
  ghastly pale she looked; she was seated to be undressed, and attended
  by Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave and Miss Goldsworthy; her whole frame was
  disordered, yet she was still and quiet.

  “These two ladies assisted me to undress her, or rather I assisted
  them, for they were firmer, from being longer present; my shaking
  hands and blinded eyes could scarce be of any use.

  “I gave her some camphor julep, which had been ordered her by Sir
  George Baker. ‘How cold I am!’ she cried, and put her hand on mine;
  marble it felt! and went to my heart’s core!

  “The King, at the instance of Sir George Baker, had consented to sleep
  in the next apartment, as the Queen was ill. For himself, he would
  listen to nothing. Accordingly, a bed was put up for him, by his own
  order, in the Queen’s second dressing-room, immediately adjoining to
  the bedroom. He would not be further removed. Miss Goldsworthy was to
  sit up with her, by the King’s direction.

  “I would fain have remained in the little dressing-room, on the other
  side the bedroom, but she would not permit it.... I went to bed,
  determined to preserve my strength to the utmost of my ability, for
  the service of my unhappy mistress. I could not, however, sleep. I do
  not suppose an eye was closed in the house all night.

  “6TH.—I rose at six, dressed in haste by candle-light, and unable to
  wait for my summons in a suspense so awful, I stole along the passage
  in the dark, a thick fog intercepting all faint light, to see if I
  could meet with Sandys,[91] or anyone, to tell me how the night had

  “When I came to the little dressing-room, I stopped, irresolute what
  to do. I heard men’s voices; I was seized with the most cruel alarm at
  such a sound in her Majesty’s dressing-room. I waited some time, and
  then the door opened, and I saw Colonel Goldsworthy and Mr.
  Batterscomb. I was relieved from my first apprehension, yet shocked
  enough to see them there at this early hour. They had both sat up
  there all night, as well as Sandys. Every page, both of the King and
  Queen, had also sat up, dispersed in the passages and ante-rooms; and
  oh, what horror in every face I met!

  “I waited here, amongst them, till Sandys was ordered by the Queen to
  carry her a pair of gloves. I could not resist the opportunity to
  venture myself before her. I glided into the room, but stopped at the
  door: she was in bed, sitting up; Miss Goldsworthy was on a stool by
  her side!

  “I feared approaching without permission, yet could not prevail with
  myself to retreat. She was looking down, and did not see me. Miss
  Goldsworthy, turning round, said, ‘’Tis Miss Burney, ma’am.’

  “She leaned her head forward, and in a most soft manner, said, ‘Miss
  Burney, how are you?’

  “Deeply affected, I hastened up to her; but, in trying to speak, burst
  into an irresistible torrent of tears.

  “My dearest friends, I do it at this moment again, and can hardly
  write for them; yet I wish you to know all this piercing history

  “She looked like death—colourless and wan; but nature is infectious;
  the tears gushed from her own eyes, and a perfect agony of weeping
  ensued, which, once begun, she could not stop; she did not, indeed,
  try; for when it subsided, and she wiped her eyes, she said, ‘I thank
  you, Miss Burney—you have made me cry; it is a great relief to me—I
  had not been able to cry before, all this night long.’

  “Oh, what a scene followed! what a scene was related! The King, in the
  middle of the night, had insisted upon seeing if his Queen was not
  removed from the house; and he had come into her room, with a candle
  in his hand, opened the bed-curtains, and satisfied himself she was
  there, and Miss Goldsworthy by her side. This observance of his
  directions had much soothed him; but he stayed a full half-hour, and
  the depth of terror during that time no words can paint. The fear of
  such another entrance was now so strongly upon the nerves of the poor
  Queen that she could hardly support herself.

  “The King—the royal sufferer—was still in the next room, attended by
  Sir George Baker and Dr. Heberden,[92] and his pages, with Colonel
  Goldsworthy occasionally, and as he called for him. He kept talking
  unceasingly; his voice was so lost in hoarseness and weakness, it was
  rendered almost inarticulate; but its tone was still all benevolence—
  all kindness—all touching graciousness.

  “It was thought advisable the Queen should not rise, lest the King
  should be offended that she did not go to him; at present he was
  content, because he conceived her to be nursing for her illness.

  “But what a situation for her! She would not let me leave her now; she
  ... frequently bid me listen, to hear what the King was saying or
  doing. I did, and carried the best accounts I could manage, without
  deviating from truth, except by some omissions. Nothing could be so
  afflicting as this task; even now, it brings fresh to my ear his poor
  exhausted voice. ‘I am nervous,’ he cried; ‘I am not ill, but I am
  nervous: if you would know what is the matter with me, I am nervous.
  But I love you both very well; if you would tell me truth: I love Dr.
  Heberden best, for he has not told me a lie: Sir George has told me a
  lie—a white lie, he says, but I hate a white lie! If you will tell me
  a lie, let it be a black lie!’

  “This was what he kept saying almost constantly, mixed in with other
  matter, but always returning, and in a voice that truly will never
  cease vibrating in my recollection.”

In the course of the morning, a third physician—Dr. Warren[93]—arrived.
His opinion was eagerly awaited by the Queen; but he did not come to
her, though repeatedly summoned. At length, Lady Elizabeth brought news
that he and the other two physicians were gone over to the Castle to the
Prince of Wales.

  “I think a deeper blow I had never witnessed. Already to become but
  second, even for the King! The tears were now wiped: indignation
  arose, with pain, the severest pain, of every species.

  “In about a quarter of an hour Colonel Goldsworthy sent in to beg an
  audience. It was granted, a long cloak only being thrown over the

  “He now brought the opinion of all the physicians in consultation,
  ‘That her Majesty would remove to a more distant apartment, since the
  King would undoubtedly be worse from the agitation of seeing her, and
  there could be no possibility to prevent it while she remained so

  “She instantly agreed, but with what bitter anguish! Lady Elizabeth,
  Miss Goldsworthy, and myself attended her; she went to an apartment in
  the same row, but to which there was no entrance except by its own
  door. It consisted of only two rooms, a bedchamber, and a
  dressing-room. They are appropriated to the lady-in-waiting when she
  is here.

  “At the entrance into this new habitation the poor wretched Queen once
  more gave way to a perfect agony of grief and affliction; while the
  words, ‘What will become of me! What will become of me!’ uttered with
  the most piercing lamentation, struck deep and hard into all our
  hearts. Never can I forget their desponding sound; they implied such
  complicated apprehension.”

Of the scene in the King’s rooms that night, Miss Burney had only a
momentary glimpse. Being sent on some commission for the Queen, “When I
gently opened,” she writes, “the door of the apartment to which I was
directed, I found it quite filled with gentlemen and attendants,
arranged round it on chairs and sofas, in dead silence. It was a
dreadful start with which I retreated; for anything more alarming and
shocking could not be conceived—the poor King within another door,
unconscious anyone was near him, and thus watched, by dread necessity,
at such an hour of the night!” How the hours passed she heard the next

  “7TH.—While I was yet with my poor royal sufferer this morning the
  Prince of Wales came hastily into the room. He apologized for his
  intrusion, and then gave a very energetic history of the preceding
  night. It had been indeed most affectingly dreadful! The King had
  risen in the middle of the night, and would take no denial to walking
  into the next room. There he saw the large congress I have mentioned:
  amazed and in consternation, he demanded what they did there? Much
  followed that I have heard since, particularly the warmest eloge on
  his dear son Frederick, his favourite, his friend. ‘Yes,’ he cried,
  ‘Frederick is my friend!’—and this son was then present amongst the
  rest, but not seen!

  “Sir George Baker was there, and was privately exhorted by the
  gentlemen to lead the King back to his room; but he had not courage:
  he attempted only to speak, and the King penned him in a corner, told
  him he was a mere old woman—that he wondered he had ever followed his
  advice, for he knew nothing of his complaint, which was only nervous!

  “The Prince of Wales, by signs and whispers, would have urged others
  to have drawn him away, but no one dared approach him, and he remained
  there a considerable time, ‘Nor do I know when he would have been got
  back,’ continued the Prince, ‘if at last Mr. Digby[94] had not
  undertaken him. I am extremely obliged to Mr. Digby indeed.’ He came
  boldly up to him, and took him by the arm, and begged him to go to
  bed, and then drew him along, and said he must go. Then he said he
  would not, and cried, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am Mr. Digby, sir,’ he
  answered, ‘and your Majesty has been very good to me often, and now I
  am going to be very good to you, for you must come to bed, sir: it is
  necessary to your life. And then he was so surprised that he let
  himself be drawn along just like a child; and so they got him to bed.
  I believe else he would have stayed all night!’”

On the following morning, an incident occurred which showed the
revolution that had taken place in the palace. Mr. Smelt had travelled
post from York on hearing of the King’s illness, but had not yet been
able to see either him or the Queen. Accidentally meeting with the
Prince of Wales, he was received by his old pupil with much apparent
kindness of manner, and invited to remain at Windsor till he could be
admitted to the Queen’s presence. Not small, then, was his surprise
when, on returning shortly afterwards to the Upper Lodge, the porter
handed him his great-coat, saying that he had express orders from the
Prince to refuse him re-admission.[95] ‘From this time,’ continues Miss
Burney, ‘as the poor King grew worse, general hope seemed universally to
abate; and the Prince of Wales now took the government of the house into
his own hands. Nothing was done but by his orders, and he was applied to
in every difficulty. The Queen interfered not in anything; she lived
entirely in her two new rooms, and spent the whole day in patient sorrow
and retirement with her daughters.’

The next news which reached the suite was that the Prince had issued
commands to the porter to admit only four persons into the house on any
pretence whatever; and these were ordered to repair immediately to the
equerry-room below stairs, while no one whatsoever was to be allowed to
go to any other apartment. ‘From this time,’ adds the Diary, ‘commenced
a total banishment from all intercourse out of the house, and an
unremitting confinement within its walls.’ The situation was rendered
even more intolerable by the sudden return of Mrs. Schwellenberg from
Weymouth. On the 10th, Miss Burney writes: ‘This was a most dismal day.
The dear and most suffering King was extremely ill, the Queen very
wretched, poor Mrs. Schwellenberg all spasm and horror, Miss Planta all
restlessness, the house all mystery, and my only informant and comforter
[Colonel Digby] distanced.’

Then began a series of tantalizing fluctuations. From November 12 to the
15th, the King showed some signs of amendment; but on Sunday, the 16th,
all was dark again in the Upper Lodge. ‘The King was worse. His night
had been very bad; all the fair promise of amendment was shaken; he had
now some symptoms even dangerous to his life. Oh, good heaven! what a
day did this prove! I saw not a human face, save at dinner; and then
what faces! gloom and despair in all, and silence to every species of
intelligence.’ The special prayer for the King’s recovery was used this
day for the first time in St. George’s Chapel. Evidences of the general
distress were apparent on all sides. ‘Every prayer in the service in
which he was mentioned brought torrents of tears from all the suppliants
that joined in them.’ Fanny ran away after the service to avoid

Of the afternoon she writes: ‘It was melancholy to see the crowds of
former welcome visitors who were now denied access. The Prince
reiterated his former orders; and I perceived from my window those who
had ventured to the door returning back in tears.’ She received letters
of inquiry, but was not at liberty to write a word. The night of the
19th was no better than that of the 16th. ‘Mr. Charles Hawkins came,’
proceeds the Diary. ‘He had sat up. Oh, how terrible a narrative did he
drily give of the night!—short, abrupt, peremptorily bad, and
indubitably hopeless. I did not dare alter, but I greatly softened this
relation, in giving it to my poor Queen.’ On this day Dr. Warren told
Mr. Pitt that there was now every reason to believe that the King’s
disorder was no other than actual lunacy.

All the equerries, except one who was ill, were now on duty. The King,
in his rambling talk, reproached them with want of attention. They lost
their whole time at table, he said, by sitting so long over their
bottle; ‘and Mr. Digby,’ he added on one occasion, ‘is as bad as any of
them; not that he stays so long at table, or is so fond of wine, but yet
he’s just as late as the rest; for he’s so fond of the company of
learned ladies, that he gets to the tea-table with Miss Burney, and
there he stays and spends his whole time.’ Colonel Digby, in repeating
this speech to the lady interested, was good enough to explain to her
that what the King had in his head was—Miss Gunning. The Colonel went on
to mention Miss Gunning’s learning and accomplishments with great
praise, yet ‘with that sort of general commendation that disclaims all
peculiar interest;’ touched, in a tone of displeasure, on the report
that had been spread concerning him and her; lightly added something
about its utter falsehood; and concluded by saying that this, in the
then confused state of the King’s mind, was what his Majesty meant by
‘learned ladies.’ More puzzled than enlightened by this explanation,
Fanny, with some hesitation, assented to the insinuating Chamberlain’s
suggestion that she should think no more of what the King had said, but
allow the Colonel ‘to come and drink tea with her very often.’

From the 20th to the 28th there was no improvement in the condition of
the sick monarch. Nearly all who saw him, whether physicians or members
of the suite, began to abandon hope of his recovery; only Sir Lucas
Pepys, an old friend of the Burneys, who was now added to the medical
attendants, inclined to a more encouraging view. The proceedings of the
28th are entered in the Diary, as follows:

  “Sir Lucas made me a visit, and informed me of all the medical
  proceedings; and told me, in confidence, we were to go to Kew
  to-morrow, though the Queen herself had not yet concurred in the
  measure; but the physicians joined to desire it, and they were
  supported by the Princes. The difficulty how to get the King away from
  his favourite abode was all that rested. If they even attempted force,
  they had not a doubt but his smallest resistance would call up the
  whole country to his fancied rescue! Yet how, at such a time, prevail
  by persuasion?

  “He moved me even to tears, by telling me that none of their own lives
  would be safe if the King did not recover, so prodigiously high ran
  the tide of affection and loyalty. All the physicians received
  threatening letters daily, to answer for the safety of their monarch
  with their lives! Sir George Baker had already been stopped in his
  carriage by the mob, to give an account of the King; and when he said
  it was a bad one, they had furiously exclaimed, ‘The more shame for

  “After he left me, a Privy Council was held at the Castle, with the
  Prince of Wales; the Chancellor, Mr. Pitt, and all the officers of
  state were summoned, to sign a permission for the King’s removal. The
  poor Queen gave an audience to the Chancellor—it was necessary to
  sanctify their proceedings. The Princess Royal and Lady Courtown
  attended her. It was a tragedy the most dismal!

  “The Queen’s knowledge of the King’s aversion to Kew made her consent
  to this measure with the extremest reluctance; yet it was not to be
  opposed: it was stated as much the best for him, on account of the
  garden: as here there is none but what is public to spectators from
  the terrace, or tops of houses. I believe they were perfectly right,
  though the removal was so tremendous.

  “The physicians were summoned to the Privy Council, to give their
  opinions, upon oath, that this step was necessary.

  “Inexpressible was the alarm of everyone, lest the King, if he
  recovered, should bear a lasting resentment against the authors and
  promoters of this journey. To give it, therefore, every possible
  sanction, it was decreed that he should be seen both by the Chancellor
  and Mr. Pitt.

  “The Chancellor went into his presence with a tremor such as, before,
  he had been only accustomed to inspire; and when he came out, he was
  so extremely affected by the state in which he saw his Royal master
  and patron that the tears ran down his cheeks, and his feet had
  difficulty to support him.

  “Mr. Pitt was more composed, but expressed his grief with so much
  respect and attachment, that it added new weight to the universal
  admiration with which he is here beheld.

  “All these circumstances, with various others of equal sadness which I
  must not relate, came to my knowledge through Sir Lucas, Mr. de Luc,
  and my noon attendance upon her Majesty, who was compelled to dress
  for her audience of the Chancellor.

  “SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH.—Shall I ever forget the varied emotions of
  this dreadful day!

  “I rose with the heaviest of hearts, and found my poor Royal Mistress
  in the deepest dejection: she told me now of our intended expedition
  to Kew. Lady Elizabeth hastened away to dress, and I was alone with
  her for some time.

  “Her mind, she said, quite misgave her about Kew: the King’s dislike
  was terrible to think of, and she could not foresee in what it might
  end. She would have resisted the measure herself, but that she had
  determined not to have upon her own mind any opposition to the opinion
  of the physicians.

  “The account of the night was still more and more discouraging: it was
  related to me by one of the pages, Mr. Brawan; and though a little I
  softened or omitted particulars, I yet most sorrowfully conveyed it to
  the Queen.

  “Terrible was the morning!—uninterruptedly terrible! all spent in
  hasty packing up, preparing for we knew not what, nor for how long,
  nor with what circumstances, nor scarcely with what view! We seemed
  preparing for captivity, without having committed any offence; and for
  banishment, without the least conjecture when we might be recalled
  from it.

  “The poor Queen was to get off in private: the plan settled between
  the Princes and the physicians was that her Majesty and the Princesses
  should go away quietly, and then that the King should be told that
  they were gone, which was the sole method they could devise to prevail
  with him to follow. He was then to be allured by a promise of seeing
  them at Kew; and, as they knew he would doubt their assertion, he was
  to go through the rooms and examine the house himself.

  “I believe it was about ten o’clock when her Majesty departed: drowned
  in tears, she glided along the passage, and got softly into her
  carriage, with two weeping Princesses, and Lady Courtown, who was to
  be her Lady-in-waiting during this dreadful residence.

  “Then followed the third Princess, with Lady Charlotte Finch. They
  went off without any state or parade, and a more melancholy scene
  cannot be imagined. There was not a dry eye in the house. The footmen,
  the housemaids, the porter, the sentinels—all cried even bitterly as
  they looked on....

  “It was settled the King was to be attended by three of his gentlemen
  in the carriage, and to be followed by the physicians, and preceded by
  his pages. But all were to depart on his arrival at Kew, except his
  own Equerry-in-waiting....

  “Miss Planta and I were to go as soon as the packages could be ready,
  with some of the Queen’s things. Mrs. Schwellenberg was to remain
  behind, for one day, in order to make arrangements about the

  “In what confusion was the house! Princes, Equerries, physicians,
  pages—all conferring, whispering, plotting, and caballing, how to
  induce the King to set off!

  “At length we found an opportunity to glide through the passage to the
  coach; Miss Planta and myself, with her maid and Goter....

  “We were almost wholly silent all the way.

  “When we arrived at Kew, we found the suspense with which the King was
  awaited truly terrible. Her Majesty had determined to return to
  Windsor at night, if he came not. We were all to forbear unpacking in
  the meanwhile....

  “Dinner went on, and still no King. We now began to grow very anxious,
  when Miss Planta exclaimed that she thought she heard a carriage. We
  all listened. ‘I hope!’ I cried.... The sound came nearer, and
  presently a carriage drove into the front court. I could see nothing,
  it was so dark; but I presently heard the much-respected voice of the
  dear unhappy King, speaking rapidly to the porter, as he alighted from
  the coach....

  “The poor King had been prevailed upon to quit Windsor with the utmost
  difficulty: he was accompanied by General Harcourt, his aide-de-camp,
  and Colonels Goldsworthy and Welbred—no one else! He had passed all
  the rest with apparent composure, to come to his carriage, for they
  lined the passage, eager to see him once more! and almost all Windsor
  was collected round the rails, etc., to witness the mournful spectacle
  of his departure, which left them in the deepest despondence, with
  scarce a ray of hope ever to see him again.

  “The bribery, however, which brought, was denied him!—he was by no
  means to see the Queen!...

  “I could not sleep all night—I thought I heard the poor King. He was
  under the same range of apartments, though far distant, but his
  indignant disappointment haunted me. The Queen, too, was very angry at
  having promises made in her name which could not be kept. What a day
  altogether was this!

  “SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH.—Here, in all its dread colours, dark as its
  darkest prognostics, began the Kew campaign. I went to my poor Queen
  at seven o’clock: the Princess Augusta arose and went away to dress,
  and I received her Majesty’s commands to go down for inquiries. She
  had herself passed a wretched night, and already lamented leaving

  “I waited very long in the cold dark passages below, before I could
  find anyone of whom to ask intelligence. The parlours were without
  fires, and washing. I gave directions afterwards to have a fire in one
  of them by seven o’clock every morning.

  “At length I procured the speech of one of the pages, and heard that
  the night had been the most violently bad of any yet passed!—and no

  “I hardly knew how to creep upstairs, frozen both within and without,
  to tell such news; but it was not received as if unexpected, and I
  omitted whatever was not essential to be known.

  “Afterwards arrived Mrs. Schwellenberg, so oppressed between her
  spasms and the house’s horrors, that the oppression she inflicted
  ought perhaps to be pardoned. It was, however, difficult enough to
  bear! Harshness, tyranny, dissension, and even insult, seemed
  personified. I cut short details upon this subject—they would but make
  you sick.”


Footnote 85:

  Mr. Storer, the friend of George Selwyn.

Footnote 86:

  By William Combe [1741-1823

Footnote 87:

  The writer and translator, 1735-1799.

Footnote 88:

    One of the Canons of Windsor.

Footnote 89:

  Dr. Maskelyne (1732-1811) was Astronomer Royal at the time.

Footnote 90:

    Physician in Ordinary to the King: born 1722; died 1809.

Footnote 91:

    Wardrobe-woman to the Queen.

Footnote 92:

    William Heberden. Born in 1710; Fellow of St. John’s College,
    Cambridge; practised medicine at Cambridge; removed to London in
    1748; wrote ‘Medical Commentaries;’ passed the later years of his
    life at Windsor, where he died in 1801.

Footnote 93:

  Richard Warren. Born about 1732; Fellow of the Royal and Antiquarian
  Societies; Physician in Ordinary to George III. and the Prince of
  Wales; died in 1797.

Footnote 94:

  We have substituted the real name here for the ‘Mr. Fairly’ of the
  printed Diary.

Footnote 95:

  It is fair to mention that the Prince afterwards apologized to his old
  sub-governor on meeting him at Kew.—Diary, iii. 117. Even Walpole,
  chary as he usually is of praise, has done justice to the “singular
  virtues and character,” the “ignorance of the world as well as its
  depravity,” of this estimable person. “Happy for the Prince,” adds
  Walpole, “had he had no other governor; at least no other director of
  his morals and opinions of government.”—See Walpole’s ‘Reign of George
  III.,’ vol. iv., pp. 312, 313.


                              CHAPTER IX.

State of Kew Palace—Dr. Willis and his Son called in—Progress under the
  New Doctors—Party Spirit—The Regency Question—Attacks on the Queen—
  Fluctuations in the King’s State—Violence of Burke—Extraordinary Scene
  between the King and Miss Burney in Kew Gardens—Marked Improvement of
  the King—The Regency Bill postponed—The King informs Miss Burney of
  his Recovery—The Restoration—Demonstrations of Joy—Return to Windsor—
  Old Routine resumed—Reaction.

The beginning of December saw the diminished and imprisoned household
suffering under an increase of apprehensions. The condition of the King
became even more alarming; the Queen began to sink as she had not done
before. From the outer world came sinister rumours, the duration of the
malady threatening a Regency—‘a word,’ says Fanny, ‘which I have not yet
been able to articulate.’ Inside, the palace at Kew was ‘in a state of
cold and discomfort past all imagination.’ It had never been a winter
residence, and there was nothing prepared to fit it for becoming one.
Not only were the bedrooms of the Princesses without carpets, but so out
of repair was the building, that a plentiful supply of sandbags had to
be provided to moderate the gales that blew through the doors and
windows. The parlour in which Miss Burney had to sit with the
Schwellenberg was carpetless, chilly, and miserable; and even this was
locked in the morning on Fanny’s admission of having used it before
breakfast; Cerbera barking out that, ‘when everybody went to her room,
she might keep an inn—what you call hotel.’ These domestic
inconveniences endured for some time. By degrees, however, the worst of
them were obviated. The bare boards were wholly or partially covered;
the apartments allotted to the family were refurnished and
redistributed; and Miss Burney was no longer exposed to the cold damps
of a dark passage while awaiting the page who brought her for the Queen
the first news of how the night had been passed by the patient.

Hitherto no progress had been made towards a successful treatment of the
King’s malady. In the early days of December, however, even the Queen
felt it useless to disguise any longer the nature of the attack, and
experts in mental disease were accordingly added to the staff of
physicians. Fortunately, a right choice was made at the first trial. The
new advisers selected were Dr. Francis Willis, a clergyman who for
twenty-eight years had devoted himself to the cure of lunacy, and his
son, Dr. John Willis, who was associated with him in practice. The
arrival of these two country practitioners—they came from Lincolnshire—
revived the hopes which the Court physicians, by their dissensions and
general despondency, had well-nigh destroyed. Though decried by the
regular faculty as interlopers, if not charlatans, the Doctors Willis
took the hearts of all at Kew Palace by storm. Mr. Digby pronounced them
‘fine, lively, natural, independent characters.’ Miss Burney, on making
their acquaintance, heartily re-echoed this praise:

  “I am extremely struck with both these physicians. Dr. Willis is a man
  of ten thousand; open, honest, dauntless, light-hearted, innocent, and
  high-minded: I see him impressed with the most animated reverence and
  affection for his royal patient; but it is wholly for his character—
  not a whit for his rank. Dr. John, his eldest son, is extremely
  handsome, and inherits, in a milder degree, all the qualities of his
  father; but living more in the general world, and having his fame and
  fortune still to settle, he has not yet acquired the same courage, nor
  is he, by nature, quite so sanguine in his opinions. The manners of
  both are extremely pleasing, and they both proceed completely their
  own way, not merely unacquainted with Court etiquette, but wholly, and
  most artlessly, unambitious to form any such acquaintance.”

The new doctors at once modified the treatment to which the King had
been subject, and the effects of the change were speedily apparent:

  “DECEMBER 11TH.—To-day we have had the fairest hopes; the King took
  his first walk in Kew garden! There have been impediments to this
  trial hitherto, that have been thought insurmountable, though, in
  fact, they were most frivolous. The walk seemed to do him good, and we
  are all in better spirits about him than for this many and many a long
  day past.”

It was not to be expected that the advance to restoration would proceed
without break or check. On the 17th we have the entry: ‘My account this
morning was quite afflictive once more;’ but under date of the 22nd we
read: ‘With what joy did I carry this morning an exceeding good account
of the King to my royal mistress! It was trebly welcome, as much might
depend upon it in the resolutions of the House concerning the Regency,
which was of to-day’s discussion;’ and in some notes summing up the
remaining days of the year, we have: ‘The King went on, now better, now
worse, in a most fearful manner; but Sir Lucas Pepys never lost sight of
hope, and the management of Dr. Willis and his two sons[96] was most
wonderfully acute and successful. Yet, so much were they perplexed and
tormented by the interruptions given to their plans and methods, that
they were frequently almost tempted to resign the undertaking from anger
and confusion.’

The new year opened amid the same alternations of progress and relapse.
In society, the war of politics took a new departure from the King’s
derangement. Supporters of the Administration were confident of his
speedy recovery; the Opposition were indefatigable in spreading the
belief that his disorder was incurable. The animosity on both sides rose
to a height which had not been equalled even at Pitt’s first entrance
into office. ‘It is a strange subject,’ wrote the Archbishop of
Canterbury, ‘for party to insist upon, and disgraceful to the country
that it should be so; but so it is.’ Uneasiness and uncertainty
prevailed everywhere. Some of Miss Burney’s best friends began to be
dismayed at her position, and at the prospect before her. Her sister
Charlotte, now Mrs. Francis, wrote from Norfolk, urging that Dr.
Burney’s consent should be obtained to her resignation, and offering
her, on behalf of Mr. Francis and herself, a permanent residence in
their house. Evidently, Fanny’s family regarded her as a helpless
person, requiring to be looked after and taken care of. Her faith,
however, in the comforting predictions of the Willises and Sir Lucas
Pepys remained unshaken, and she would not hear of quitting her post.

A fresh trouble had by this time arisen. The Queen could not escape
becoming involved in the strife of parties. The Prince of Wales and the
Duke of York were naturally impatient to push their afflicted father
from his seat. What they wanted in brains was amply supplied by the
combined genius of the Whig leaders—by Fox, and Burke, and Sheridan—all
embittered at having been so often checkmated by the young statesman
whom they had flouted as a mere boy. What the Princes lacked in tenacity
of purpose was driven into them by the incessant cry of myriad
place-hunters, yelling like famished wolves. The first thought of the
faction was how to clutch power as soon as might be; their second, how
to engross it as exclusively as possible. No scruple was made of
declaring that all places would be vacated and refilled, even if the
Regency were to last only a single day.[97] That there would be a
complete change of Administration was a matter of course. But beyond
this, changes were meditated in the army, and other departments of the
State, which it was known must grievously offend the King, should they
come to his knowledge. Among other promotions, every colonel in favour
with the Prince or the Duke was to be raised to the rank of
Major-General. Mrs. Fitzherbert, it was said, was to be created a

Next to Pitt and his colleagues, the chief obstacle to the speedy
execution of these notable projects was Queen Charlotte. It was not to
be expected that a wife would be as ready as the heir-apparent to
believe in the confirmed insanity of the head of the house. It was
excusable, to say the least, that one who for more than twenty-eight
years had filled, without reproach, the station of Queen Consort, should
object to be effaced with her lord, until the necessity for his
seclusion was unmistakably demonstrated. And when discord raged in the
medical council, when Dr. Warren pronounced the King to be ‘rather
worse’ than he had been at Windsor, while to Sir Lucas and the
specialists, as well as to ordinary observers, his condition appeared
most hopeful, she might surely be pardoned for leaning to the favourable
view. Partisans, however, were too excited to listen to reason. The
clergyman from Lincolnshire was denounced in the Opposition newspapers
as a mere empiric and creature of Pitt. The most scurrilous abuse was
heaped upon the Queen. Both in the press, and in the House of Commons,
she was accused of being in league with Willis to misrepresent the state
of the King’s health, in order to prevent the Prince, her son, from
being invested with the authority of Regent. Pitt, having no option but
to propose a Regency, was proceeding with the utmost caution, and
seeking to lay on the expectant Viceroy several restrictions, which his
character seemed to call for, and which assuredly have not been
disapproved by the judgment of posterity. Besides limiting the Prince’s
power to confer peerages and pensions, and to alienate royal property,
the Premier recommended that the care and management of the King’s
person, as well as the appointments in the household, should be
entrusted to the Queen. Perhaps no part of the Government’s plan aroused
more angry hostility than this. ‘How would the King on his recovery,’
demanded Burke in Parliament, ‘be pleased at seeing the patronage of the
Household taken from the Prince of Wales, his representative, and given
to the Queen? He must be shocked at the idea.’ Allusions to these
attacks on one who so little deserved them occur in Miss Burney’s Diary
about this time:

  “JANUARY 10TH.—The King again is not so well; and new evidences are
  called for in the House, relative to his state. My poor Royal Mistress
  now droops. I grieve—grieve to see her!—but her own name and conduct
  called in question! Who can wonder she is shocked and shaken? Was
  there not enough before, firmly as she supported it?

  “11TH.—This morning Dr. John gave me but a bad account of the poor
  King. His amendment is not progressive; it fails, and goes back, and
  disappoints most grievously; yet it would be nothing were the case and
  its circumstances less discussed, and were expectation more

  “12TH.—A melancholy day: news bad both at home and abroad. At home,
  the dear, unhappy King still worse; abroad, new examinations voted of
  the physicians! Good Heaven! what an insult does this seem from
  Parliamentary power, to investigate and bring forth to the world every
  circumstance of such a malady as is ever held sacred to secrecy in the
  most private families! How indignant we all feel here no words can

Macaulay is very severe on poor Miss Burney for the want of correct
constitutional principles shown in this last entry. He cites the passage
to prove that the second Robe-Keeper’s ‘way of life was rapidly
impairing her powers of reasoning and her sense of justice;’ that, as he
elsewhere says, this existence was as incompatible with health ‘of mind
as the air of the Pomptine Marshes with health of body.’ The critic is
perfectly right in stating that the motion which roused indignation at
Kew was made by Mr. Pitt, who was regarded as the King’s champion,
though he should have added that it was brought forward in response to a
challenge from the Opposition. But Miss Burney felt as a woman, and
wrote as a woman, not as a politician. Had she been a politician, she
would still have been entitled to the indulgence which was being claimed
and abused by every speaker and journalist on the side opposed to the
Court. Consider the debates and the scandalous charges that she read
daily in the newspapers. And if she erred, she erred in company with a
large number of other heretics who should have been far better fortified
in sound doctrine than herself. If the atmosphere of the palace was
unwholesome, it was much less contaminating than the malaria of Carlton
House. If the novelist was wrong in thinking that the House of Commons
ought not to concern itself with the details of the King’s illness, what
is to be said of the eminent Whigs who maintained that the Legislature
had nothing to do with any question relating to the disposition of the
regal authority? What shall be said for Alexander Wedderburn, then Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas, and afterwards Lord Chancellor, who advised
the Prince of Wales to seize on the Regency without consulting either
House of Parliament? Or what can be urged for Fox himself, who asserted
his patron’s right to take this course, in the very face of the
assembled Commons? ‘It is melancholy,’ says Macaulay, ‘to see genius
sinking into such debasement.’ What words, then, shall we apply to
Edmund Burke, who scandalized both sides of the House by declaring that
‘the Almighty had hurled the monarch from his throne, and plunged him
into a condition which drew down upon him the pity of the meanest
peasant in his kingdom’? Miss Burney, still feeling and writing as a
woman, could not accuse her old friend Burke of being debased, though
she sadly laments over him as ‘that most misguided of vehement and wild
orators.’[99] Such was the virulence engendered in a spectator of the
misery at Court by associating with Leonard Smelt and Colonel Digby.

  “KEW PALACE, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND.—What an adventure had I this
  morning! one that has occasioned me the severest personal terror I
  ever experienced in my life.

  “Sir Lucas Pepys still persisting that exercise and air were
  absolutely necessary to save me from illness, I have continued my
  walks, varying my gardens from Richmond to Kew, according to the
  accounts I received of the movements of the King. For this I had her
  Majesty’s permission, on the representation of Sir Lucas.

  “This morning, when I received my intelligence of the King from Dr.
  John Willis, I begged to know where I might walk in safety. ‘In Kew
  Gardens,’ he said, ‘as the King would be in Richmond.’

  “‘Should any unfortunate circumstance,’ I cried, ‘at any time,
  occasion my being seen by his Majesty, do not mention my name, but let
  me run off without call or notice.’

  “This he promised. Everybody, indeed, is ordered to keep out of sight.

  “Taking, therefore, the time I had most at command, I strolled into
  the gardens. I had proceeded, in my quick way, nearly half the round,
  when I suddenly perceived, through some trees, two or three figures.
  Relying on the instructions of Dr. John, I concluded them to be
  workmen and gardeners; yet tried to look sharp, and in so doing, as
  they were less shaded, I thought I saw the person of his Majesty!

  “Alarmed past all possible expression, I waited not to know more, but
  turning back, ran off with all my might. But what was my terror to
  hear myself pursued!—to hear the voice of the King himself loudly and
  hoarsely calling after me, ‘Miss Burney! Miss Burney!’

  “I protest I was ready to die. I knew not in what state he might be at
  the time; I only knew the orders to keep out of his way were
  universal; that the Queen would highly disapprove any unauthorised
  meeting, and that the very action of my running away might deeply, in
  his present irritable state, offend him. Nevertheless, on I ran, too
  terrified to stop, and in search of some short passage, for the garden
  is full of little labyrinths, by which I might escape.

  “The steps still pursued me, and still the poor hoarse and altered
  voice rang in my ears:—more and more footsteps resounded frightfully
  behind me,—the attendants all running, to catch their eager master,
  and the voices of the two Doctor Willises loudly exhorting him not to
  heat himself so unmercifully.

  “Heavens, how I ran! I do not think I should have felt the hot lava
  from Vesuvius—at least, not the hot cinders—had I so run during its
  eruption. My feet were not sensible that they even touched the ground.

  “Soon after, I heard other voices, shriller, though less nervous, call
  out, ‘Stop! stop! stop!’

  “I could by no means consent: I knew not what was purposed, but I
  recollected fully my agreement with Dr. John that very morning, that I
  should decamp if surprised, and not be named.

  “My own fears and repugnance, also, after a flight and disobedience
  like this, were doubled in the thought of not escaping: I knew not to
  what I might be exposed, should the malady be then high, and take the
  turn of resentment. Still, therefore, on I flew; and such was my
  speed, so almost incredible to relate or recollect, that I fairly
  believe no one of the whole party could have overtaken me, if these
  words, from one of the attendants, had not reached me, ‘Doctor Willis
  begs you to stop!’

  “‘I cannot! I cannot!’ I answered, still flying on, when he called
  out, ‘You must, ma’am; it hurts the King to run.’

  “Then, indeed, I stopped—in a state of fear really amounting to agony.
  I turned round, I saw the two Doctors had got the King between them,
  and three attendants of Dr. Willis’s were hovering about. They all
  slackened their pace, as they saw me stand still; but such was the
  excess of my alarm, that I was wholly insensible to the effects of a
  race which, at any other time, would have required an hour’s recruit.

  “As they approached, some little presence of mind happily came to my
  command: it occurred to me that, to appease the wrath of my flight, I
  must now show some confidence: I therefore faced them as undauntedly
  as I was able, only charging the nearest of the attendants to stand by
  my side.

  “When they were within a few yards of me, the King called out, ‘Why
  did you run away?’

  “Shocked at a question impossible to answer, yet a little assured by
  the mild tone of his voice, I instantly forced myself forward to meet
  him, though the internal sensation, which satisfied me this was a step
  the most proper to appease his suspicions and displeasure, was so
  violently combated by the tremor of my nerves, that I fairly think I
  may reckon it the greatest effort of personal courage I have ever

  “The effort answered: I looked up, and met all his wonted benignity of
  countenance, though something still of wildness in his eyes. Think,
  however, of my surprise, to feel him put both his hands round my two
  shoulders, and then kiss my cheek!

  “I wonder I did not really sink, so exquisite was my affright when I
  saw him spread out his arms! Involuntarily, I concluded he meant to
  crush me: but the Willises, who have never seen him till this fatal
  illness, not knowing how very extraordinary an action this was from
  him, simply smiled and looked pleased, supposing, perhaps, it was his
  customary salutation!

  “I believe, however, it was but the joy of a heart unbridled, now, by
  the forms and proprieties of established custom and sober reason. To
  see any of his household thus by accident, seemed such a near approach
  to liberty and recovery, that who can wonder it should serve rather to
  elate than lessen what yet remains of his disorder!

  “He now spoke in such terms of his pleasure in seeing me, that I soon
  lost the whole of my terror; astonishment to find him so nearly well,
  and gratification to see him so pleased, removed every uneasy feeling,
  and the joy that succeeded, in my conviction of his recovery, made me
  ready to throw myself at his feet to express it.

  “What a conversation followed! When he saw me fearless, he grew more
  and more alive, and made me walk close by his side, away from the
  attendants, and even the Willises themselves, who, to indulge him,
  retreated. I own myself not completely composed, but alarm I could
  entertain no more.

  “Everything that came uppermost in his mind he mentioned; he seemed to
  have just such remains of his flightiness as heated his imagination
  without deranging his reason, and robbed him of all control over his
  speech, though nearly in his perfect state of mind as to his opinions.

  “What did he not say!—He opened his whole heart to me,—expounded all
  his sentiments, and acquainted me with all his intentions.

  “The heads of his discourse I must give you briefly, as I am sure you
  will be highly curious to hear them, and as no accident can render of
  much consequence what a man says in such a state of physical

  “He assured me he was quite well—as well as he had ever been in his
  life; and then inquired how I did, and how I went on? and whether I
  was more comfortable?

  “If these questions, in their implication, surprised me, imagine how
  that surprise must increase when he proceeded to explain them! He
  asked after the coadjutrix, laughing, and saying, ‘Never mind her!—
  don’t be oppressed—I am your friend! don’t let her cast you down!—I
  know you have a hard time of it—but don’t mind her!’

  “Almost thunderstruck with astonishment, I merely curtseyed to his
  kind ‘I am your friend,’ and said nothing.

  “Then presently he added, ‘Stick to your father—stick to your own
  family—let them be your objects.’

  “How readily I assented!

  “Again he repeated all I have just written, nearly in the same words,
  but ended it more seriously: he suddenly stopped, and held me to stop
  too, and putting his hand on his breast, in the most solemn manner, he
  gravely and slowly said, ‘I will protect you!—I promise you that—and
  therefore depend upon me!’

  “I thanked him; and the Willises, thinking him rather too elevated,
  came to propose my walking on. ‘No, no, no!’ he cried, a hundred times
  in a breath; and their good humour prevailed, and they let him again
  walk on with his new companion.

  “He then gave me a history of his pages, animating almost into a rage,
  as he related his subjects of displeasure with them, particularly with
  Mr. Ernst,[100] who, he told me, had been brought up by himself. I
  hope his ideas upon these men are the result of the mistakes of his

  “Then he asked me some questions that very greatly distressed me,
  relating to information given him in his illness, from various
  motives, but which he suspected to be false, and which I knew he had
  reason to suspect: yet was it most dangerous to set anything right, as
  I was not aware what might be the views of their having been stated
  wrong. I was as discreet as I knew how to be, and I hope I did no
  mischief; but this was the worst part of the dialogue.

  “He next talked to me a great deal of my dear father, and made a
  thousand inquiries concerning his ‘History of Music.’ This brought him
  to his favourite theme, Handel; and he told me innumerable anecdotes
  of him, and particularly that celebrated tale of Handel’s saying of
  himself, ‘While that boy lives, my music will never want a protector.’
  And this, he said, I might relate to my father.

  “Then he ran over most of his oratorios, attempting to sing the
  subjects of several airs and choruses, but so dreadfully hoarse that
  the sound was terrible.

  “Dr. Willis, quite alarmed at this exertion, feared he would do
  himself harm, and again proposed a separation. ‘No, no, no!’ he
  exclaimed, ‘not yet; I have something I must just mention first.’

  “Dr. Willis, delighted to comply, even when uneasy at compliance,
  again gave way.

  “The good King then greatly affected me. He began upon my revered old
  friend, Mrs. Delany; and he spoke of her with such warmth—such
  kindness! ‘She was my friend!’ he cried, ‘and I loved her as a friend!
  I have made a memorandum when I lost her—I will show it you.’

  “He pulled out a pocket-book, and rummaged some time, but to no

  “The tears stood in his eyes—he wiped them, and Dr. Willis again
  became very anxious. ‘Come, sir,’ he cried, ‘now do you come in and
  let the lady go on her walk,—come, now, you have talked a long while,—
  so we’ll go in—if your Majesty pleases.’

  “‘No, no!’ he cried, ‘I want to ask her a few questions;—I have lived
  so long out of the world, I know nothing!’

  “This touched me to the heart. We walked on together, and he inquired
  after various persons, particularly Mrs. Boscawen, because she was
  Mrs. Delany’s friend! Then, for the same reason, after Mr. Frederick
  Montagu, of whom he kindly said, ‘I know he has a great regard for me,
  for all he joined the Opposition.’ Lord Grey de Wilton, Sir Watkin
  Wynn, the Duke of Beaufort, and various others, followed.

  “He then told me he was very much dissatisfied with several of his
  State officers, and meant to form an entire new establishment. He took
  a paper out of his pocket-book, and showed me his new list.

  “This was the wildest thing that passed; and Dr. John Willis now
  seriously urged our separating; but he would not consent; he had only
  three more words to say, he declared, and again he conquered.

  “He now spoke of my father, with still more kindness, and told me he
  ought to have had the post of Master of the Band, and not that little
  poor musician Parsons, who was not fit for it: ‘But Lord Salisbury,’
  he cried, ‘used your father very ill in that business, and so he did
  me! However, I have dashed out his name, and I shall put your father’s
  in,—as soon as I get loose again!’

  “This again—how affecting was this!

  “‘And what,’ cried he, ‘has your father got, at last? nothing but that
  poor thing at Chelsea? O fie! fie! fie! But never mind! I will take
  care of him! I will do it myself!’

  “Then presently he added, ‘As to Lord Salisbury, he is out already, as
  this memorandum will show you, and so are many more. I shall be much
  better served; and when once I get away, I shall rule with a rod of

  “This was very unlike himself, and startled the two good doctors, who
  could not bear to cross him, and were exulting at my seeing his great
  amendment, but yet grew quite uneasy at his earnestness and

  “Finding we now must part, he stopped to take leave, and renewed again
  his charges about the coadjutrix. ‘Never mind her!’ he cried, ‘depend
  upon me! I will be your friend as long as I live!—I here pledge myself
  to be your friend!’ And then he saluted me again just as at the
  meeting, and suffered me to go on.

  “What a scene! how variously was I affected by it! but, upon the
  whole, how inexpressibly thankful to see him so nearly himself—so
  little removed from recovery!

  “I went very soon after to the Queen, to whom I was most eager to avow
  the meeting, and how little I could help it. Her astonishment, and her
  earnestness to hear every particular, were very great. I told her
  almost all. Some few things relating to the distressing questions I
  could not repeat; nor many things said of Mrs. Schwellenberg, which
  would much, and very needlessly, have hurt her.”

About February 6, a further improvement in the King’s state took place,
which proved to be decisive. From this time, not only were his equerries
allowed to attend him again in the evening, but the Queen was once more
admitted to his chamber. Singularly enough, the progress of his recovery
coincided exactly with the progress of the Regency Bill. The latter was
brought into the House of Commons on the 5th, and on the following day a
printed copy was shown to Fanny. “I shuddered,” she writes, “to hear it
named.” On the 10th she reports: “The amendment of the King is
progressive, and without any reasonable fear, though not without some
few drawbacks. The Willis family were surely sent by Heaven to restore
peace, and health, and prosperity to this miserable house!” On the 12th
the Regency Bill passed the Commons, and was carried up to the House of
Lords; it was there subsequently read a second time, went through
Committee, and was ordered for a third reading. But that stage was not
to arrive. Miss Burney writes on the 13th: “Oh, how dreadful will be the
day when that unhappy Bill takes place! I cannot approve the plan of it;
the King is too well to make such a step right. It will break his
spirits, if not his heart, when he hears and understands such a

“SATURDAY, 14TH.—The King is infinitely better. Oh that there were
patience in the land, and this Regency Bill postponed!”

Macaulay, quoting part of the entry for the 13th, leaves it to be
inferred that the writer disapproved of ‘Pitt’s own Bill’ under any
circumstances; he carefully omits the words which show that her
objection was to the plan being proceeded with when the King’s recovery
was so far advanced as to render it inapplicable. The Ministry speedily
made it plain that they were of the same mind as Miss Burney. On the
17th, the Peers, on the motion of the Lord Chancellor, adjourned the
further consideration of the Regency Bill; and a week later the measure
was finally abandoned.

“What a different house,” says the Diary of the 19th, “is this house
become!—sadness and terror, that wholly occupied it so lately, are now
flown away, or rather are now driven out; and though anxiety still
forcibly prevails, ’tis in so small a proportion to joy and
thankfulness, that it is borne as if scarce an ill!” Before the month
ended, Miss Burney had an assurance of the King’s entire restoration
from his own mouth. “The King I have seen again—in the Queen’s
dressing-room. On opening the door, there he stood! He smiled at my
start; and, saying he had waited on purpose to see me, added, ‘I am
quite well now—I was nearly so when I saw you before; but I could
overtake you better now.’”

All England had been intent on the little palace at Kew, where distress
was now turned into rejoicing. To none of his subjects was the recovery
of the royal patient a matter of indifference. To a limited party it was
a source of bitter disappointment and chagrin. To the immense majority
it brought unbounded satisfaction. It was the engrossing topic of the
day. ‘Nobody,’ said an observer, ‘talks, writes, thinks, or dreams of
anything else.’ On the 1st of March thanksgivings for the happy event
were offered in all the churches of the capital. On the 10th the
physicians took their departure from Kew. On the same day Parliament was
opened by Commission under the sign manual. At sunset began a spectacle
worthy of the occasion. ‘London,’ wrote Wraxall, ‘displayed a blaze of
light from one extremity to the other; the illuminations extending,
without any metaphor, from Hampstead and Highgate to Clapham, and even
as far as Tooting; whilst the vast distance between Greenwich and
Kensington presented the same dazzling appearance. The poorest mechanics
contributed their proportion, and instances were exhibited of cobblers’
stalls decorated with one or two farthing candles.[101]

The Queen carried all the Princesses, except the youngest, up to town,
to feast their eyes on streets as brilliant and crowded as Vauxhall on a
gala night. It may cool our historic fervour to remember that the blaze
of light which astonished our ancestors was produced by nothing more
luminous than oil-lamps, and that the crowds of 1789 would pass for a
sorry muster in the huge Babylon of to-day; but, after all, the scene
exhibited in London, when even the cobblers’ stalls were illuminated,
was not without its significance on the eve of the meeting of the States
General at Versailles. Cowper, usurping the functions of Thomas Warton,
then poet-laureate, sang of Queen Charlotte’s private expedition:

                  ‘Glad she came that night to prove,
                    A witness undescried,
                  How much the object of HER love
                    Was loved by ALL beside.’

Miss Burney describes how the festive evening was spent at Kew. The
Queen, at her own expense, had arranged for an illumination of the
palace and courtyard as a surprise to her consort. Biagio Rebecca, by
her order, had painted a grand transparency, displaying representations
of “the King, Providence, Health, and Britannia, with elegant devices.
When this was lighted and prepared, the Princess Amelia went to lead her
papa to the front window; but first she dropped on her knees, and
presented him a paper,” containing some congratulatory verses which, at
the Queen’s desire, the narrator “had scribbled in her name for the
happy occasion,” and which concluded with a postscript:

                   ‘The little bearer begs a kiss
                   From dear papa for bringing this.’

“I need not, I think, tell you,” continues Fanny, “that the little
bearer begged not in vain. The King was extremely pleased. He came into
a room belonging to the Princesses, in which we had a party to look at
the illuminations, and there he stayed above an hour: cheerful,
composed, and gracious; all that could merit the great national
testimony to his worth this day paid him.” When at one o’clock in the
morning the Queen returned to Kew, she found the King standing
bare-headed at the porch, ready to hand her from the coach, and eager to
assure himself of her safety. So far from being dissatisfied with
anything that she had done during his illness, his affection for her was
confirmed by the zeal with which she had watched over his interests.

On the 14th of March the Court left Kew for Windsor. “All Windsor,” says
the Diary, “came out to meet the King. It was a joy amounting to
ecstasy. I could not keep my eyes dry all day long. A scene so reversed!
Sadness so sweetly exchanged for thankfulness and delight!” But the
period of excitement was now over. The old routine of duty recommenced,
with few incidents to relieve its monotony: there was an entertainment
or two for the suite in the royal borough to celebrate the restoration;
then one by one the friends and acquaintances who were assembled round
the household in the early days of March dispersed to their homes; no
society remained at the Upper Lodge but Cerbera and the
gentlemen-in-waiting—who did _not_ include Colonel Digby; hardly any
change marked the succession of days, save an occasional visit to Kew,
and now and then a journey to town for a drawing-room. In the Public
Thanksgiving, held at St. Paul’s on the 23rd of April, Fanny appears to
have had no part, though she received as mementoes of the occasion a
medal of green and gold, and a fan ornamented with the words: _Health
restored to one, and happiness to millions_. Once, when in London, she
had a visit from Miss Gunning, who called to inquire after the Queen’s
health, and who ‘looked serious, sensible, interesting,’ though she said
but little, and in that little managed to introduce the name of Mr.
Digby. Degree by degree, Fanny’s spirits sank to the point of actual
despondency, till she writes, ‘A lassitude of existence creeps sensibly
upon me.’ A fit of illness did not assist to restore her cheerfulness.
Thus ended March, and thus passed April, May, and the greater part of
June. The King had raised some alarm by declaring his intention of going
to Germany in the summer, but, to the satisfaction of the suite in
general, and of one of the Queen’s Robe-Keepers in particular, when the
time came, the physicians advised a stay at an English watering-place in


Footnote 96:

  Dr. Willis was now assisted by a younger son, named Thomas, who, like
  himself, was in holy orders, as well as by his eldest son John.

Footnote 97:

  ‘Cornwallis Papers,’ vol. i., p. 406.

Footnote 98:

  ‘Buckingham Papers,’ vol. ii., p. 104; ‘Auckland Correspondence,’ vol.
  ii., pp. 251, 289.

Footnote 99:

  Diary, vol. iii., p. 163.

Footnote 100:

    Many stories have been told of the deranged King having been
    brutally treated by this man Ernst, who is said on one occasion to
    have thrown the patient violently down, exclaiming to the
    attendants, ‘There is your King for you!’ But Ernst, who was a Page
    of the Back Stairs, received a pension on his retirement. It seems
    probable, therefore, that Ernst’s supposed brutality was, as Miss
    Burney suggests, an illusion of the King’s malady.

Footnote 101:

  Wraxall’s Posthumous Memoirs, vol. iii., pp. 369, 370.


                               CHAPTER X.

Royal Visit to Weymouth—Lyndhurst—Village Loyalty—Arrival at Weymouth—
  Bathing to Music—Mrs. Gwynn—Mrs. Siddons—The Royal Party at the Rooms—
  First Sight of Mr. Pitt—The Marquis of Salisbury—Royal Tour—Visit to
  Longleat—Mrs. Delany—Bishop Ken—Tottenham Park—Return to Windsor—
  Progress of the French Revolution—Colonel Digby’s Marriage—Miss
  Burney’s Situation—A Senator—Tax on Bachelors—Reading to the Queen—
  Miss Burney’s Melancholy—Proposal for her Retirement—Her Tedious
  Solitude—Her Literary Inactivity—Her Declining Health—A Friendly
  Cabal—Windham and the Literary Club—James Boswell—Miss Burney’s
  Memorial to the Queen—Leave of Absence Proposed—The Queen and Mrs.
  Schwellenberg—Serious Illness of Miss Burney—Discussions on her
  Retirement—A Day at the Hastings Trial—The Defence—A Lively Scene—The
  Duke of Clarence—Parting with the Royal Family—Miss Burney receives a
  Pension—Her Final Retirement.

On the 25th of June the Court set out on a progress from Windsor to
Weymouth. Miss Burney and Miss Planta, as was usual on these occasions,
were of the suite; the Schwellenberg, as usual, remained behind. ‘The
crowds increased as we advanced, and at Winchester the town was _one
head_.’ At Romsey, on the steps of the Town Hall, a band of musicians,
some in coarse brown coats and red neckcloths, some even in
smock-frocks, made a chorus of ‘God save the King,’ in which a throng of
spectators joined with shouts that rent the air. ‘Carriages of all sorts
lined the roadside—chariots, chaises, landaus, carts, waggons, whiskies,
gigs, phaetons—mixed and intermixed, filled within and surrounded
without by faces all glee and delight.’ On the verge of the New Forest
the King was met by a party of foresters, habited in green, with bows
and bugles, who, according to ancient custom, presented him with a pair
of milk-white greyhounds, wearing silver collars, and led by silken

Arrived at Lyndhurst, he drove to the old hunting-seat of Charles II.,
then tenanted by the Duke of Gloucester. “It is a straggling,
inconvenient old house,” writes Fanny, “but delightfully situated in a
village—looking, indeed, at present, like a populous town, from the
amazing concourse of people that have crowded into it.... During the
King’s dinner, which was in a parlour looking into the garden, he
permitted the people to come to the window; and their delight and
rapture in seeing their monarch at table, with the evident hungry
feeling it occasioned, made a contrast of admiration and deprivation
truly comic. They crowded, however, so excessively, that this can be
permitted no more. They broke down all the paling, and much of the
hedges, and some of the windows, and all by eagerness and multitude, for
they were perfectly civil and well-behaved.... We continued at Lyndhurst
five days.... On the Sunday we all went to the parish church; and after
the service, instead of a psalm, imagine our surprise to hear the whole
congregation join in ‘God save the King!’ Misplaced as this was in a
church, its intent was so kind, loyal, and affectionate, that I believe
there was not a dry eye amongst either singers or hearers.”

On the 30th of June the royal party quitted Lyndhurst, and arrived at
Weymouth in the course of the evening. ‘The journey was one scene of
festivity and rejoicing.’ The change of air, the bustle of travelling,
the beauty of the summer landscapes, the loyalty of the population, had
restored Fanny’s tone, and brought back the glow she had experienced at
the time of the King’s convalescence. Her enthusiasm lent a touch of
enchantment to everything she saw. Salisbury and Blandford welcomed
their sovereign with displays and acclamations that fairly carried her
away. At Dorchester the windows and roofs of the quaint old houses
seemed packed with eager faces. ‘Girls, with chaplets, beautiful young
creatures, strewed the entrance of various villages with flowers.’

Nor were the good people of Weymouth and Melcomb Regis a whit behind in
loyalty, though greatly at a loss how to vary the expression of their
feelings. “Not a child could we meet that had not a bandeau round its
head, cap or hat, of ‘God save the King’; all the bargemen wore it in
cockades; and even the bathing-women had it in large coarse girdles
round their waists. It is printed in golden letters upon most of the
bathing-machines, and in various scrolls and devices it adorns every
shop, and almost every house, in the two towns.... Nor is this all.
Think but of the surprise of his Majesty when, the first time of his
bathing, he had no sooner popped his royal head under water than a band
of music, concealed in a neighbouring machine, struck up, ‘God save
great George our King’! One thing, however, was a little unlucky:—When
the mayor and burgesses came with the address, they requested leave to
kiss hands. This was graciously accorded; but the mayor advancing in a
common way, to take the Queen’s hand, as he might that of any lady
mayoress, Colonel Gwynn, who stood by, whispered:

“‘You must kneel, sir.’

“He found, however, that he took no notice of this hint, but kissed the
Queen’s hand erect. As he passed him, in his way back, the Colonel said:

“‘You should have knelt, sir!’

“‘Sir,’ answered the poor Mayor, ‘I cannot.’

“‘Everybody does, sir.’

“‘Sir,—I have a wooden leg!’

“But the absurdity of the matter followed—all the rest did the same;
taking the same privilege, by the example, without the same or any

Miss Burney’s way of life at Weymouth seems to have been much the same
as if she had belonged to a private party. “I have here a very good
parlour, but dull from its aspect. Nothing but the sea at Weymouth
affords any life or spirit. My bedroom is in the attics. Nothing like
living at a Court for exaltation. Yet even with this gratification,
which extends to Miss Planta, the house will only hold the females of
the party.... It is my intention to cast away all superfluous complaints
into the main ocean, which I think quite sufficiently capacious to hold
them; and really my little frame will find enough to carry and manage
without them.... His Majesty is in delightful health, and much improved
in spirits. All agree he never looked better.... The Queen is reading
Mrs. Piozzi’s ‘Tour’ to me, instead of my reading it to her. She loves
reading aloud, and in this work finds me an able commentator. How like
herself, how characteristic is every line!—Wild, entertaining, flighty,
inconsistent, and clever!” As at Cheltenham, much of the stiffness of
Windsor etiquette was thrown aside. The King and his family spent most
of their time in walking or riding, and the Queen required but little
attendance. Now and again the royal party varied the usual amusements of
a watering-place by a visit to the _Magnificent_ line-of-battle ship,
stationed at the entrance of the bay, by a cruise in the _Southampton_
frigate, which lay further in, or by an excursion to Dorchester,
Lulworth Castle, or Sherborne Castle. During these intervals, the
Robe-Keeper was left to her own occupations. She passed much of her
leisure with the wife of the equerry, Mrs. Gwynn, Goldsmith’s ‘Jessamy
Bride,’ who had many stories to tell of her old admirer,[102] and could
exchange anecdotes with Fanny of Johnson, Baretti, the Thrales, Sir
Joshua and his nieces. Strolling with this acquaintance one morning on
the sands, Miss Burney “overtook a lady of very majestic port and
demeanour, who solemnly returned Mrs. Gwynn’s salutation, and then
addressed herself to me with similar gravity. I saw a face I knew, and
of very uncommon beauty, but did not immediately recollect it was Mrs.
Siddons. Her husband was with her, and a sweet child. I wished to have
tried if her solemnity would have worn away by length of conversation:
but I was obliged to hasten home.”

The great actress, as she told Fanny, had come to Weymouth solely for
her health; but she could not resist the royal command to appear at the
little theatre, where Mrs. Wells and Quick were already performing. “The
King,” says the Diary, “has taken the centre front box for himself, and
family, and attendants. The side boxes are too small. The Queen ordered
places for Miss Planta and me, which are in the front row of a box next
but one to the royals. Thus, in this case, our want of rank to be in
their public suite gives us better seats than those _high_ enough to
stand behind them!

“JULY 29TH.—We went to the play, and saw Mrs. Siddons in Rosalind. She
looked beautifully, but too large for that shepherd’s dress; and her
gaiety sits not naturally upon her—it seems more like disguised gravity.
I must own my admiration for her confined to her tragic powers; and
there it is raised so high that I feel mortified, in a degree, to see
her so much fainter attempts and success in comedy.”

A few days later we read that Mrs. Siddons, as Lady Townly, in her looks
and the tragic part was exquisite; and again: “Mrs. Siddons performed
Mrs. Oakley. What pity thus to throw away her talents! But the Queen
dislikes tragedy; and the honour to play before the Royal Family binds
her to the little credit acquired by playing comedy.

“SUNDAY, AUGUST 9TH.—The King had a council yesterday, which brought
most of the great officers of State to Weymouth. This evening her
Majesty desired Miss Planta and me to go to the rooms, whither they
commonly go themselves on Sunday evenings; and after looking round them,
and speaking where they choose, they retire to tea in an inner apartment
with their own party, but leave the door open, both to see and be seen.
The rooms are convenient and spacious: we found them very full. As soon
as the royal party came, a circle was formed, and they moved round it,
just as before the ball at St. James’s, the King one way, with his
Chamberlain, the new-made Marquis of Salisbury,[103] and the Queen the
other, with the Princesses, Lady Courtown, etc. The rest of the
attendants planted themselves round in the circle. I had now the
pleasure, for the first time, to see Mr. Pitt; but his appearance is his
least recommendation; it is neither noble nor expressive.”

Three days later occurs a significant entry:

“WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12TH.—This is the Prince of Wales’s birthday; but it
has not been kept.”

On the 13th the royal party left Weymouth for Exeter, where they arrived
to a late dinner. Two days afterwards they proceeded through a fertile
and varied country to Saltram, the seat of Earl Morley, a minor. All
along the route, the enthusiasm of loyalty which had accompanied the
King from Windsor continued undiminished. Arches of flowers were erected
at every town, with such devices as rustic ingenuity could imagine, to
express the welcome of the inhabitants. Everywhere there were crowds,
cheers, singing, peals of bells, rejoicings, garlands, and decorations.
The view from Saltram commanded Plymouth Sound, Mount Edgecombe, and a
wide stretch of the fine adjacent country. Visits were made from this
noble house to the great naval port, to the beauties of the famous
Mount, to the woods and steeps of Maristow, and the antique curiosities
of Cothele on the banks of the Tamar. On the 27th the Court quitted
Saltram for Weymouth, and in the middle of September finally departed
from Weymouth on its return to Windsor. Two nights and the intervening
day were spent at Longleat, the seat of the Marquis of Bath. “Longleat,”
writes Miss Burney, “was formerly the dwelling of Lord Lansdowne, uncle
to Mrs. Delany; and here, at this seat, that heartless uncle, to promote
some political views, sacrificed his incomparable niece, at the age of
seventeen, marrying her to an unwieldy, uncultivated country esquire,
near sixty years of age, and scarce ever sober—his name Pendarves. With
how sad an awe, in recollecting her submissive unhappiness, did I enter
these doors!—and with what indignant hatred did I look at the portrait
of the unfeeling Earl, to whom her gentle repugnance, shown by almost
incessant tears, was thrown away, as if she, her person, and her
existence, were nothing in the scale, where the disposition of a few
boroughs opposed them! Yet was this the famous Granville—the poet, the
fine gentleman, the statesman, the friend and patron of Pope, of whom he

             ‘What Muse for Granville can refuse to sing?’

_Mine_, I am sure, for one.”

The house, at the time of this visit, though magnificent, and of an
immense magnitude, was very much out of repair, and by no means cheerful
or comfortable. Gloomy grandeur, Fanny thought, was the character of the
building and its fitting-up. “My bedroom,” she says, “was furnished with
crimson velvet, bed included, yet so high, though only the second story,
that it made me giddy to look into the park, and tired to wind up the
flight of stairs. It was formerly the favourite room, the housekeeper
told me, of Bishop Ken, who put on his shroud in it before he died. Had
I fancied I had seen his ghost, I might have screamed my voice away,
unheard by any assistant to lay it; for so far was I from the rest of
the mansion, that not the lungs of Mr. Bruce could have availed me.” The
last place at which the King stopped on his homeward journey was
Tottenham Park, the seat of the Earl of Ailesbury. Here occurred an
instance of the enormous expense to which the great nobles sometimes
went in entertaining their sovereign. ‘The good lord of the mansion put
up a new bed for the King and Queen that cost him £900.’

On September 18 the Court arrived at Windsor. ‘Deadly dead sank my
heart’ is our traveller’s record of her sensation on re-entering the
detested dining-room. Nothing happened during the remainder of the year
to raise her spirits. In October, the days began to remind her of the
terrible miseries of the preceding autumn. She found ‘a sort of
recollective melancholy always ready to mix’ with her thankfulness for
the King’s continued good health. And about the same time disquieting
news came from over the water of the march to Versailles, the return to
Paris, and the shouts of the hungry and furious _poissardes_ proclaiming
the arrival of ‘the baker, his wife, and the little apprentice.’ Events
of this kind could not but excite uneasiness at any Court, however
popular for the time. These shadows were presently succeeded by another,
equally undefined, but of a more personal character. In the middle of
November, Fanny was told by Miss Planta, in confidence, that Mr. Digby
had written to acquaint his royal patrons with his approaching marriage.
‘I believed not a syllable of the matter,’ says the Diary; ‘but I would
not tell her that.’ Only a few days later, however, the same kind friend
informed Miss Burney that ‘it was all declared, and that the Princesses
had wished Miss Gunning joy at the Drawing-Room.’ ‘Now first,’ says
Fanny, ‘my belief followed assertion;—but it was only because it was
inevitable, since the Princesses could not have proceeded so far without
certainty.’ The wedding took place early in January; and from this time
the bridegroom appeared no more at Court, which became to one of the
attendants an abode of unrelieved gloom.

Some of her friends were frank enough in their comments on her
situation. There was something, no doubt, in Miss Burney’s aspect which
drew such remarks as these from the wife of an Irish bishop: “Well; the
Queen, to be sure, is a great deal better dressed than she used to be;
but for all that, I really think it is but an odd thing for you!—Dear, I
think it’s something so out of the way for you!—I can’t think how you
set about it. It must have been very droll to you at first. A great deal
of honour, to be sure, to serve a Queen, and all that; but, I dare say a
lady’s-maid could do it better.... It must be a mighty hurry-scurry
life! You don’t look at all fit for it, to judge by appearances, for all
its great honour, and all that.” Colonel Digby had previously accused
her of being _absent_ in her official occupation, and she had owned that
she had at first found attention _unattainable_. “She had even,” she
added, “and not seldom, handed the Queen her fan before her gown, and
her gloves before her cap!” The Vice-Chamberlain thought this very
likely, and observed that such matters did not seem trifles to her

The Diary for the earlier months of 1790 contains little more than what
the writer calls ‘loose scraps of anecdotes,’ of which we can find room
for only one or two specimens. Here is an account of a conversation with
Colonel Manners, who, besides being an equerry, was also a Member of

  “I had been informed he had once made an attempt to speak, during the
  Regency business, last winter; I begged to know how the matter stood,
  and he made a most frank display of its whole circumstances.

  “‘Why, they were speaking away,’ he cried, ‘upon the Regency, and so—
  and they were saying the King could not reign, and recover; and Burke
  was making some of his eloquence, and talking; and, says he, ‘hurled
  from his throne’—and so I put out my finger in this manner, as if I
  was in a great passion, for I felt myself very red, and I was in a
  monstrous passion I suppose, but I was only going to say ‘Hear! Hear!’
  but I happened to lean one hand down upon my knee, in this way, just
  as Mr. Pitt does when he wants to speak; and I stooped forward, just
  as if I was going to rise up and begin; but just then I caught Mr.
  Pitt’s eye, looking at me so pitifully; he thought I was going to
  speak, and he was frightened to death, for he thought—for the thing
  was, he got up himself, and he said over all I wanted to say; and the
  thing is, he almost always does; for just as I have something
  particular to say, Mr. Pitt begins, and goes through it all, so that
  he don’t leave anything more to be said about it; and so I suppose, as
  he looked at me so pitifully, he thought I should say it first, or
  else that I should get into some scrape, because I was so warm and
  looking so red.’

  “Any comment would disgrace this; I will therefore only tell you his
  opinion, in his own words, of one of our late taxes.[104]

  “‘There’s only one tax, ma’am, that ever I voted for against my
  conscience, for I’ve always been very particular about that; but that
  is the _bacheldor’s_ tax, and that I hold to be very unconstitutional,
  and I am very sorry I voted for it, because it’s very unfair; for how
  can a man help being a _bacheldor_, if nobody will have him? and,
  besides, it’s not any fault to be taxed for, because we did not make
  ourselves _bacheldors_, for we were made so by God, for nobody was
  born married, and so I think it’s a very unconstitutional tax.’”

Miss Burney’s desultory journals for this year contain few notices of
her life at Court. We hear, indeed, in the spring, of her being summoned
to a new employment, and called upon four or five times to read a play
before the Queen and Princesses. But this proved a very occasional break
in the routine of drudgery which she could no longer support with
cheerfulness. Henceforth she seems to avoid all mention of other
engagements and incidents at Windsor or Kew as matters too wearisome to
think of or write about. We have, instead, accounts of days spent at the
Hastings trial, where, as before, she spent much time in conversing with
Windham. The charges were now being investigated in detail, and it was
often difficult to make up an interesting report for her mistress.
Sometimes, however, when evidence weighed the proceedings down, Burke
would speak from time to time, and lift them up; or Windham himself,
much to Fanny’s satisfaction, would take part in the arguments. But
Westminster Hall was attractive mainly by contrast to the palace; in the
Great Chamberlain’s Box there was no danger of receiving a summons to
the Queen, no fear of being late for an attendance in the royal
dressing-room. During the recess, when there was no trial to attend,
Miss Burney’s thoughts were a good deal occupied by the illness and
death of a faithful man-servant, and with the subsequent disposal of his
savings, which caused her some trouble.

Once, at the end of May, she had an opportunity of unburdening her mind
to her father. They met in Westminster Abbey at one of the many
commemorations of Handel which occurred about this time; and, neither of
them caring very much for the great master’s music, they spent three
hours chiefly in conversation. For four years they had not been so long
alone together. Dr. Burney happened to mention that some of the French
exiles wished him to make them acquainted with the author of ‘Cecilia,’
and repeated the astonished speech of the Comtesse de Boufflers on
learning that this was out of his power: ‘Mais, monsieur, est-ce
possible! Mademoiselle votre fille n’a-t-elle point de vacances?’ Such
an opening was just what Fanny wanted, and she availed herself of it to
pour out her whole heart. With many expressions of gratitude for the
Queen’s goodness, she owned that her way of life was distasteful to her;
she was lost to all private comfort, dead to all domestic endearment,
worn with want of rest and laborious attendance. Separated from her
relations, her friends, and the society she loved, she brooded over the
past with hopeless regret, and lived like one who had no natural
connections. “Melancholy was the existence, where happiness was
excluded, though not a complaint could be made! where the illustrious
personages who were served possessed almost all human excellence—yet
where those who were their servants, though treated with the most
benevolent condescension, could never in any part of the live-long day,
command liberty, or social intercourse, or repose!” “The silence of my
dearest father,” she adds, “now silencing myself, I turned to look at
him; but how was I struck to see his honoured head bowed down almost
into his bosom with dejection and discomfort! We were both perfectly
still a few moments; but when he raised his head I could hardly keep my
seat to see his eyes filled with tears! ‘I have long,’ he cried, ‘been
uneasy, though I have not spoken; ... but ... if you wish to resign—my
house, my purse, my arms, shall be open to receive you back!’”

It cannot fairly be said that, during the preceding four years, Miss
Burney had been debarred from literary work. The conditions of her lot
were hard, and it may have been one of them that she should publish
nothing while in the Queen’s service; but she certainly had enjoyed
considerable leisure for composition. Witness the full and
carefully-written journal which she had kept during the greater part of
her tenure of office. Perhaps the frequent interruptions to which she
was liable hindered her from concentrating her thoughts on the
production of a regular narrative. Indefatigable as she was with her
pen, we can see that she was far less strenuous when much intellectual
exertion was required. When she was offered her post, her Muse was at a
standstill, as she told the King; and since she entered the household,
she had written nothing capable of being printed, except two or three
small copies of verses not worth printing, and the rough draft of a
tragedy. She had begun this tragedy during the King’s illness, in order
to distract her attention; and after laying it aside for sixteen months,
she resumed her task in the spring of 1790, and completed the play in
August. Well or ill done, she was pleased, she told her sisters, to have
done something ‘at last—she who had so long lived in all ways as
nothing.’ In the early part of this year the newspapers announced, as
they had done several times before, that the distinguished novelist, who
had so long been silent, had at length finished a new tale ready for the
press. As often as this rumour appeared, a flutter of apprehension ran
through the ante-rooms of the Upper and Lower Lodges. Fanny’s genius for
seizing the points of a character, and presenting them in a ludicrous
light, could not fail to be recognised wherever she went. Years before,
the fiery Baretti had warned her that if she dared to put him in a book,
she should feel the effects of an Italian’s vengeance.[105] Joseph
Baretti, who had stilettoed his man, and who lived to libel Mrs. Piozzi,
was the very person to fulfil a promise of this kind. But for his
threat, his tempting eccentricities might have exposed him to
considerable peril. But the carpet-knights and waiting-women of Windsor
stood in no immediate danger. ‘There is a new book coming out, and we
shall all be in it!’ exclaimed the conscience-stricken Mr. Turbulent.
The colonels frowned, bit their lips, and tried not to look
uncomfortable. ‘Well, anybody’s welcome to me and my character!’ cried
poor Miss Planta, whom Fanny used to patronize. ‘Never mind! she’s very
humane!’ observed one of the Willises, well aware that, whoever else
might suffer, he and his family were exempt from ridicule. Miss Burney
smiled demurely at the tributes paid to her power. Full well she knew
that, so far as the characters of her colleagues were worth preserving,
she had them all safe, under lock and key, in her Diary. But not a line
of the dreaded novel had been written. The passion, which possessed her
in her early days, for planning a story, and contriving situations for
the actors in it, had faded away as the freshness of youth departed.

The months rolled on, and her spirits did not improve, while her health
steadily declined. Some of her female friends—Mrs. Gwynn, Miss
Cambridge, Mrs. Ord—saw her at Windsor or Kew after the close of the
London season, and were painfully impressed with the alteration which
they noted in her. The reports which these ladies carried up to town
were speedily known throughout her father’s circle of acquaintances. The
discontent that had been felt at her seclusion increased tenfold when it
was suspected that there was danger of the prisoner’s constitution
giving way. A sort of cabal was formed to bring influence to bear upon
Dr. Burney. The lead in this seems to have been taken by Sir Joshua
Reynolds, who, despite his failing eyesight and his Academic troubles,
was zealous as ever in the cause of his old favourite. Dr. Burney had
yielded to Fanny’s wish of retiring; but he was not in affluent
circumstances, he had expected great things from the Court appointment,
his daughter had not much worldly wisdom, and in dread of the censure
that awaited him in high quarters, if he suffered her to throw away a
competency without visible necessity, he was for putting off the evil
day of resignation as long as possible. It was therefore important that
friends whose approbation he valued should unite to make him understand
that the case, in their judgment, called for prompt determination. He
was much worked upon in the autumn by a letter from Horace Walpole to
Frances, in which the writer, with a touch of heartiness quite unusual
to him, lamented her confinement to a closet at Court, and asked whether
her talents were given to be buried in obscurity? About the same time,
he was warned by his daughter, Mrs. Francis, that Windham, her neighbour
in Norfolk, who had observed for himself the change in Fanny’s
appearance, was meditating an attack on him as soon as they should meet
in town. The politician had already sounded Burney to little purpose;
‘it is resolution,’ he told Charlotte, ‘not inclination, the Doctor
wants.’ ‘I will set the Literary Club upon him!’ he cried. ‘Miss Burney
has some very true friends there, and I am sure they will all eagerly
assist. We will present him an address.’

The general feeling infected James Boswell, though not very intimate
with the Burney family. In this same autumn, Boswell was on a visit to
the Dean of Windsor, who was also Bishop of Carlisle. Miss Burney met
him one morning at the choir-gate of St. George’s Chapel:

  “We saluted with mutual glee: his comic-serious face and manner have
  lost nothing of their wonted singularity; nor yet have his mind and
  language, as you will soon confess.

  “‘I am extremely glad to see you indeed,’ he cried, ‘but very sorry to
  see you here. My dear ma’am, why do you stay?—it won’t do, ma’am! you
  must resign!—we can put up with it no longer. I told my good host the
  Bishop so last night; we are all grown quite outrageous!’ Whether I
  laughed the most, or stared the most, I am at a loss to say; but I
  hurried away, not to have such treasonable declarations overheard, for
  we were surrounded by a multitude. He accompanied me, however, not
  losing one moment in continuing his exhortations: ‘If you do not quit,
  ma’am, very soon, some violent measures, I assure you, will be taken.
  We shall address Dr. Burney in a body; I am ready to make the harangue
  myself. We shall fall upon him all at once.’

  “I stopped him to inquire about Sir Joshua; he said he saw him very
  often, and that his spirits were very good. I asked about Mr. Burke’s
  book. ‘Oh,’ cried he, ‘it will come out next week: ’tis the first book
  in the world, except my own, and that’s coming out also very soon;
  only I want your help.’ ‘My help?’ ‘Yes, madam; you must give me some
  of your choice little notes of the Doctor’s; we have seen him long
  enough upon stilts; I want to show him in a new light. Grave Sam, and
  great Sam, and solemn Sam, and learned Sam—all these he has appeared
  over and over. Now I want to entwine a wreath of the graces across his
  brow; I want to show him as gay Sam, agreeable Sam, pleasant Sam: so
  you must help me with some of his beautiful billets to yourself.’”

Fanny evaded this request by declaring that she had not any stores at
hand; she could not, she afterwards said, consent to print private
letters addressed to herself. The self-satisfied biographer followed her
to the Queen’s Lodge, continuing his importunity, and repeating his
exhortations to her to resign at once. At the entrance, he pulled out a
proof-sheet of the First Book in the world, and began to read from it a
letter of Dr. Johnson to himself. ‘He read it,’ says the Diary, ‘in
strong imitation of the Doctor’s manner, very well, and not caricature.
But Mrs. Schwellenberg was at her window, a crowd was gathering to stand
round the rails, and the King and Queen and Royal Family now approached
from the Terrace. I made rather a quick apology, and with a step as
quick as my now weakened limbs have left in my power, I hurried to my

By what representations Dr. Burney was brought to view his daughter’s
condition in its true light we are not distinctly informed. We find,
however, that, before October ended, a memorial to the Queen, written by
Fanny in her father’s name and her own, requesting permission for the
Robe-Keeper to resign, had been approved by the Doctor, who expressed
his desire that it should be presented at the first favourable
opportunity. Then came a pause: the invalid was taking bark, which for a
short time recruited her strength; and she cherished the hope of
obtaining a ship for her brother James before she left the Court. But
her hopes both for her brother and herself proved illusory. In December,
her loss of health became so notorious that no part of the house could
wholly avoid acknowledging it. ‘Yet,’ she writes, ‘was the terrible
piquet the catastrophe of every evening, though frequent pains in my
side forced me, three and four times in a game, to creep to my own room
for hartshorn and for rest.’ The remaining members of the household were
more considerate than the mistress of the card-table. The ladies had the
fellow-feeling of fellow-sufferers; even Mr. Turbulent frankly
counselled Miss Burney to retreat before it was too late. A general
opinion prevailed that she was falling into a decline, and that, at
best, she was reduced to a choice between her place and her life. “There
seemed now,” she says, “no time to be lost; when I saw my dear father he
recommended to me to be speedy, and my mother was very kind in urgency
for immediate measures. I could not, however, summon courage to present
my memorial; my heart always failed me, from seeing the Queen’s entire
freedom from such an expectation; for though I was frequently so ill in
her presence that I could hardly stand, I saw she concluded me, while
life remained, inevitably hers.” Fanny’s nervousness, in fact, had made
her less anxious to deliver her letter than her father was to have it
delivered, and some further persuasion from him was required before the
paper reached her Majesty’s hands.

At length it was presented, and the result was exactly what the writer
had anticipated. The Schwellenberg stormed, of course: to resign was to
return to nothingness; to forfeit the protection of the Court was to
become an outcast; to lose the beatific vision of the Sovereign and his
consort was hardly less than to be excluded from heaven. The Queen
thought the memorial very modest and proper, but was surprised at its
contents. Indomitable herself, she could not understand how anyone else
could suffer from more than passing illness. She therefore proposed that
her sick attendant should have six weeks’ leave of absence, which, with
change of air and scene, and the society of her family, the Locks and
the Cambridges, would ensure a perfect cure. This proposal was duly
communicated to Dr. Burney. The good man’s answer arrived by return of
post. With much gratitude for the royal goodness, he declared, on
medical authority, that nothing short of an absolute retirement gave any
prospect of recovery. “A scene almost horrible ensued,” says Miss
Burney, “when I told Cerbera the offer was declined. She was too much
enraged for disguise, and uttered the most furious expressions of
indignant contempt at our proceedings. I am sure she would gladly have
confined us both in the Bastille, had England such a misery, as a fit
place to bring us to ourselves, from a daring so outrageous against
imperial wishes.”

The Queen herself betrayed a blank disappointment at Dr. Burney’s
inflexibility, but neither exhibited displeasure nor raised any further
obstacle. Yet the prisoner’s liberation was still at a distance. In
January, 1791, she was prostrated by an attack of some acute illness
which lasted through the two following months. On returning to her duty,
she found that search was being made for a suitable person to succeed
her. But the selection proved difficult, and her Majesty, of course,
could not be pressed. It was at length arranged that Miss Burney should
be set free soon after the celebration of the King’s birthday in June.
This matter settled, her position grew easier. Her colleague not only
laid aside asperity of manner, but became even ‘invariable in kindness.’
And Fanny now began to do the old lady more justice than she had ever
done before. She acknowledged, in short, that Cerbera’s bark was worse
than her bite; that though selfish, harsh, and overbearing, she was not
unfriendly; that she was even extremely fond of her junior’s society,
when the latter could force herself to appear gay and chatty. On such
occasions the morose German would melt, and tell the Queen: ‘The Bernar
bin reely agribble.’ ‘Mrs. Schwellenberg, too,’ adds the Diary, ‘with
all her faults, is heart and soul devoted to her royal mistress, with
the truest faith and loyalty.’ As for this mistress, she treated her
retiring servant with all her former confidence, clouded only by a
visible, though unavowed, regret at the prospect of their separation.
Thus the closing weeks of this life at Court were spent in comparative
tranquillity, though there were intervals of great weakness and

“On the opening of this month,” says the Diary for June, “her Majesty
told me that the next day Mr. Hastings was to make his defence, and
warmly added, ‘I would give the world you could go to it!’” There was no
resisting such an appeal, and accordingly, under date of June 2nd, we
read: “I went once more to Westminster Hall, which was more crowded than
on any day since the trial commenced, except the first. Peers,
commoners, and counsel, peeresses, commoneresses, and the numerous
indefinites, crowded every part, with a just and fair curiosity to hear
one day’s defence, after seventy-three of accusation.” Miss Burney heard
the accused read his vindication, and listened with an interest which
she knew would be shared by the King and Queen; she heard something also
about herself, which she did not communicate to their Majesties. She
attended to the story of Hastings when told by himself as she had never
attended to it before; her sympathy followed him when he expressed
disdain of his persecutors, when he arraigned the late Minister, Lord
North, of double-dealing, and the then Minister, Mr. Pitt, of cowardly
desertion. She shared his indignation when the Managers interrupted him;
she exulted when the Lords quelled the interruption by cheering the
speaker, and when Lord Kenyon, who presided in the place of the
Chancellor, said, ‘Mr. Hastings, proceed.’ She contrasted the fortitude
of the defendant, who for so many days had been silent under virulent
abuse, with the intemperate eagerness of his assailants, who could not
exercise the like self-control even for three brief hours. In short, she
felt as warm-hearted women always have felt, and as it is suspected that
even icy politicians, men of light and leading on their respective
sides, occasionally do feel in the present enlightened age. “The
conclusion of the defence,” continues this excited partisan, “I heard
better, as Mr. Hastings spoke considerably louder from this time: the
spirit of indignation animated his manner, and gave strength to his
voice. You will have seen the chief parts of his discourse in the
newspapers; and you cannot, I think, but grow more and more his friend
as you peruse it. He called pathetically and solemnly for instant
judgement; but the Lords, after an adjournment, decided to hear his
defence by evidence, and in order, the next Session. How grievous such
continued delay to a man past sixty, and sighing for such a length of
time for redress from a prosecution as yet unparalleled in our annals!”

When it was over, Windham approached her, and ‘in a tone of very deep
concern, and with a look that fully concurred in it,’ said, ‘Do I see
Miss Burney? Indeed,’ he went on, ‘I was going to make a speech not very
gallant.’ ‘But it is what I should like better,’ cried the lady; ‘for it
is kind, if you were going to say I look miserably ill, as that is but a
necessary consequence of feeling so, and miserably ill I have felt this
long time past.’ She prevented more by going on to say how happy she was
that he had been absent from the Managers’ Box, and had not joined in
the attempt made by his fellow-managers to disconcert Mr. Hastings.
‘Indeed, I was kept in alarm to the very last moment; for at every
figure I saw start up just now—Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Mr. Grey—I concluded
yours would be the next.’ ‘You were prepared, then,’ cried he with no
little malice, ‘for a “voice issuing from a distant pew.”’ This
unexpected quotation from Cecilia “put me quite out,” says Fanny,
“whereupon he seized his opportunity to put himself in. For, after a
little laugh at his victory, he very gravely, and even almost solemnly,
said, ‘But there is another subject—always uppermost with me—which I
have not ventured to speak of to you; though to others you know not how
I have raved and raged! But I believe, I am sure, you know what I allude
to.’ ’Twas impossible, thus challenged, to dissemble. ‘Yes,’ I answered;
‘I own, I believe I understand you; and, indeed, I should be tempted to
say further—if you would forget it when heard, and make no implications—
that, from what has come round to me from different quarters, I hold
myself to be very much obliged to you....’ When we came home I was
immediately summoned to her Majesty, to whom I gave a full and fair
account of all I had heard of the defence; and it drew tears from her
expressive eyes, as I repeated Mr. Hastings’ own words, upon the
hardship and injustice of the treatment he had sustained.” At night, the
reporter was called upon to repeat her narrative to the King, to whom
she was equally faithful, “sparing nothing of what had dropped from the
persecuted defendant relative to the Ministers of the Crown.”

Two days afterwards came the King’s birthday, and Miss Burney was well
enough to enjoy a lively scene—the last that she was to witness at

  “At dinner Mrs. Schwellenberg presided, attired magnificently. Miss
  Goldsworthy, Mrs. Stainforth, Messrs. de Luc and Stanhope dined with
  us; and, while we were still eating fruit, the Duke of Clarence
  entered. He was just risen from the King’s table, and waiting for his
  equipage to go home and prepare for the ball. To give you an idea of
  the energy of his Royal Highness’s language, I ought to set apart a
  general objection to writing, or rather intimating, certain forcible
  words, and beg leave to show you, in genuine colours, a royal sailor.
  We all rose, of course, upon his entrance, and the two gentlemen
  placed themselves behind their chairs, while the footmen left the
  room; but he ordered us all to sit down, and called the men back to
  hand about some wine. He was in exceeding high spirits, and in the
  utmost good humour. He placed himself at the head of the table, next
  Mrs. Schwellenberg, and looked remarkably well, gay, and full of sport
  and mischief, yet clever withal as well as comical. ‘Well, this is the
  first day I have ever dined with the King at St. James’s on his
  birthday. Pray, have you all drunk his Majesty’s health?’ ‘No, your
  Roy’l Highness: your Roy’l Highness might make dem do dat,’ said Mrs.
  Schwellenberg. ‘O, by —— will I! Here, you (to the footman); bring
  champagne! I’ll drink the King’s health again, if I die for it! Yet, I
  have done pretty well already: so has the King, I promise you! I
  believe his Majesty was never taken such good care of before. We have
  kept his spirits up, I promise you; we have enabled him to go through
  his fatigues: and I should have done more still, but for the ball and
  Mary—I have promised to dance with Mary!’ Princess Mary made her first
  appearance at Court to-day: she looked most interesting and
  unaffectedly lovely: she is a sweet creature, and perhaps, in point of
  beauty, the first of this truly beautiful race, of which Princess Mary
  may be called _pendant_ to the Prince of Wales. Champagne being now
  brought for the Duke, he ordered it all round. When it came to me, I
  whispered to Westerhaults to carry it on: the Duke slapped his hands
  violently on the table, and called out, ‘O, by ——, you shall drink
  it!’ There was no resisting this. We all stood up, and the Duke
  sonorously gave the royal toast.”

The indefatigable diarist, says Thackeray, continues for pages reporting
H.R.H.’s conversation, and indicating, with a humour not unworthy of the
clever little author of ‘Evelina,’ the increasing excitement of the
young Sailor Prince, who drank more and more champagne, stopped old Mrs.
Schwellenberg’s remonstrances by kissing her hand, and telling her to
shut her potato-trap, and who did not keep ‘sober for Mary.’ Mary had to
find another partner that night, for the royal William Henry could not
keep his legs. When the Princess afterwards told Miss Burney of her
brother’s condition at the ball, and Fanny accounted for it by relating
what had passed at the attendants’ dinner-table, she found that she had
been anticipated by the Duke himself. ‘Oh!’ cried the Princess; ‘he told
me of it himself the next morning, and said: “You may think how far I
was gone, for I kissed the Schwellenberg’s hand!”’ The lady saluted was
duly sensible of the honour paid her. ‘Dat Prince Villiam,’ she observed
to her junior—‘oders de Duke of Clarence—bin raelly ver merry—oders vat
you call tipsy.’

Mademoiselle Jacobi,[106] Fanny’s destined successor, arrived in the
first days of July, and the prison door was now thrown open. Miss Burney
imagined that, as the day of her discharge approached, the Queen’s
manner to her became rather less cordial, and betokened an inward
feeling that the invalided servant ought, at every hazard, to have
remained with her employer. This, we believe, is a common opinion among
mistresses in all ranks of life, when called upon to surrender a trusted
dependent. The King, with that weakness which the better-half always
despises, was disposed to be much more indulgent. As if to compensate
for his consort’s vexation, he showed himself increasingly courteous and
kind at every meeting, making opportunities to talk over Boswell’s book,
which had recently appeared, and listening to Fanny’s anecdotes of
Johnson with the utmost complacency and interest. The Princesses did not
conceal their sorrow at the impending change. ‘Indeed,’ says the Diary,
‘the most flattering marks of attention meet me from all quarters. Mrs.
Schwellenberg has been forced to town by ill-health; she was very
friendly, even affectionate, in going!’ And before the hour of parting
arrived, the light cloud passed away from her Majesty’s face. It has
been asked, Why should she have grieved at losing an attendant, who, as
the Queen used to complain, could never tie the bow of her royal
necklace without tying her royal hair in with it? But, in Miss Burney,
Queen Charlotte was losing much more than an unskilful tire-woman, or a
nervous reader, who, as we know on the same unimpeachable authority,
‘had the misfortune of reading rather low.’ She was losing one whom she
declared to be ‘true as gold,’ and who had a much larger share of mind
than commonly fell to the official lot; a familiar friend who was as far
as possible from being a learned lady, and yet capable of entertaining
her mistress with clever and stimulating talk such as her Majesty loved.
No retiring pension had been asked for in the petition for leave to
resign, and when the subject was mentioned by the Queen, the petitioner
hastened to disavow all claim and expectation of that kind. She found,
however, that the question of what the occasion demanded had been
already considered and decided. Though the term of service had been
short, the character of the servant, and the notorious failure of her
health, made it imperative that she should receive some provision. The
Queen therefore announced her intention of continuing to her second
Robe-Keeper in retirement one-half of the annual salary which had been
paid to her in office. ‘It is but her due,’ said the King. ‘She has
given up five years of her pen.’[107] Two days after this matter was
settled, Miss Burney took leave of the Royal Family. Emotional as one of
her own heroines, she could not control her feelings in bidding farewell
to the Queen, and was unable even to look at the King when he came to
say ‘Good-bye.’ She quitted the Court on July 7, 1791, having been a
member of the royal house-hold for five years all but ten days. Burke
recalled the satisfaction with which he had hailed her appointment; and,
owning that he had never been more mistaken in his life, observed that
the story of those five years would have furnished Johnson with another
vivid illustration for his ‘Vanity of Human Wishes.’


Footnote 102:

  “His coffin was re-opened at the request of the Jessamy Bride, that a
  lock might be cut from his hair. It was in Mrs. Gwynn’s possession
  when she died, after nearly seventy years.”—Forster’s “Goldsmith.”

Footnote 103:

  James, seventh Earl of Salisbury, was advanced in August, 1789, to the
  title of Marquis.

Footnote 104:

    In 1785, Mr. Pitt introduced an increase in the tax paid on
    men-servants, when they were kept by bachelors.

Footnote 105:

  Diary, vol. ii., p. 581.

Footnote 106:

  Macaulay asserts that, shortly after her release, Miss Burney “visited
  her old dungeon, and found her successor already far on the way to the
  grave, and kept to strict duty, from morning till midnight, with a
  sprained ankle, and a nervous fever.” This is a strange misstatement.
  Mademoiselle Jacobi had leave of absence to nurse her sprain: it was
  not “in the old dungeon” that Miss Burney saw her on the occasion
  referred to, but in a small room at Brompton, where she was sitting
  with her leg on bolsters, and unable to put her foot to the ground.
  Fanny, in January, 1792, took a turn of duty at St. James’s, by the
  Queen’s request, because “Mademoiselle Jacobi was still lame.” Diary,
  vol. iii., pp. 385-87. However, we read afterwards that, towards the
  end of 1797, Mademoiselle Jacobi “retired to Germany, ill and
  dissatisfied with everything in England.” She, as well as Miss Burney,
  received a pension.

Footnote 107:

  Memoirs, iii. 118 n.


                              CHAPTER XI.

Chelsea Hospital—Tour to Devonshire—Visit to Bath—Reminiscences—The
  Duchess of Devonshire—Return Home—Literary Pursuits resumed—Attempts
  at Tragedy—Social Engagements—Death of Sir Joshua Reynolds—A Public
  Breakfast at Mrs. Montagu’s—Mrs. Hastings—Mr. Boswell—Visit to Mrs.
  Crewe—The Burke Family—Meeting with Edmund Burke—Burke and the French
  Revolution—Charles Fox—Lord Loughborough—Mr. Erskine—His Egotism—The
  French Refugees in England—Bury St. Edmunds—Madame de Genlis—The Duke
  de Liancourt—The Settlement at Mickleham—Count de Narbonne—The
  Chevalier d’Arblay—Visit of Miss Burney to Norfolk—Death of Mr.
  Francis—Return to London.

Miss Burney returned to her father, who, with his wife and his youngest
daughter Sarah, was then living in Chelsea Hospital. The family at this
time occupied rooms on the ground-floor, which not long afterwards were
exchanged for others in the top story. After resting three weeks at
home, she set out on a tour to the southwest of England, under the care
of her friend Mrs. Ord. The travellers journeyed by easy stages to
Sidmouth, taking Stonehenge on their way, and stopping at the principal
places which had been visited by the Court in the summer of 1789. Having
spent eight or nine days on the coast of South Devon, they turned
northwards, and proceeded by the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey to Bath.
That most famous of English watering-places was greatly altered from
what it had been when Fanny passed the season there with the Thrales
eleven years before. The circumference, she tells us, had trebled,
though the new buildings were scattered, and most of them unfinished.
“The hills are built up and down, and the vales so stocked with streets
and houses, that, in some places, from the ground-floor on one side a
street, you cross over to the attic of your opposite neighbour. It looks
a town of hills, and a hill of towns.” But the palaces of white stone
rising up on every hand interested her less than the old haunts with
which she was familiar—the North Parade, where she had lived with Mrs.
Thrale; the houses in the Circus, where she had visited Mrs. Montagu and
Mrs. Cholmley; the Belvedere, where she had talked with Mrs. Byron and
Lord Mulgrave. Nearly a month slipped away in reviving old
recollections, and in making some new acquaintances to replace the many
that had disappeared. The retired official was much flattered by an
introduction to the celebrated Duchess of Devonshire, and amused herself
with the thought that her first visit after leaving the Queen should be
paid to the greatest lady of the Opposition. Another month was divided
between Mickleham and Norbury Park, and by the middle of October Miss
Burney was again at Chelsea.

‘We shall expect you here to dinner by four,’ wrote her father. ‘The
great grubbery will be in nice order for you, as well as the little;
both have lately had many accessions of new books. The ink is good, good
pens in plenty, and the most pleasant and smooth paper in the world!

                  ‘“Come, Rosalind, oh, come and see
                  What quires are in store for thee!”’

Are we wrong in thinking that these words express Dr. Burney’s anxiety
to see his daughter once more working as she had not worked since the
last sheet of ‘Cecilia’ was corrected for the press? In the succeeding
pages of the Diary we find more than one passage where the good man’s
eagerness for some new fruit of her talents is plainly confessed.
Friends had united to persuade him that he had but to recall her from
the royal dressing-room to her study, and fresh laurels, with abundant
riches, would surely and speedily be hers. He was naturally impatient
for some fulfilment of these prophecies. Rosalind appeared: she wore out
the quills, and covered the quires; but nothing came of her activity.
Her health was now fairly restored, and, in the first ardour of
composition, she felt that she could employ two pens almost incessantly.
Unhappily, her industry was devoted to a mistaken purpose. She had
brought with her from Windsor the rough drafts of two tragedies, and
without pausing to correct these, she occupied herself in writing a
third. A less hopeful enterprise could not have been conceived. She had
before her eyes the warning example of Mr. Crisp’s failure. Had this old
friend been living, he would doubtless have been wiser for his pupil
than he was for himself. It is certain that Nature had not designed the
Siddons for tragedy more distinctly than she intended Frances Burney for
comedy. With the exception of one or two powerful scenes, such as the
death of Harrel, Fanny’s chief successes had been won in the department
of humorous writing. It was her misfortune that she had at this moment
no literary adviser on whose judgment she could rely. Her acquaintance
with Arthur Murphy seems to have ceased; the Hastings trial, and the
debates on the Regency, had cooled her relations with Sheridan and
Burke. ‘Mr. Sheridan,’ she wrote, ‘I have no longer any ambition to be
noticed by.’ Her regard for Burke continued; but she had not yet met him
since her deliverance from captivity. Dr. Burney was told only that she
was engaged upon a play, and was made to understand that he must wait
until it was finished before he was indulged with a sight of the
manuscript. Towards the end of 1791 she writes: ‘I go on with various
writings, at different times, and just as the humour strikes. I have
promised my dear father a Christmas-box and a New Year’s gift; and
therefore he now kindly leaves me to my own devices.’ We do not find
that the anxious parent received either of the promised presents. The
daughter’s fit of application seems to have soon died away: in the early
part of 1792, her father was ill and occupied with his ailments; and by
the time he was able to think of other things, Fanny had ceased to
prepare for coming before the public. Her tragedies slept in her desk
for three years: when, at the end of that period, the earliest of them,
which had been begun at Kew and finished at Windsor, was put on the
stage, it was produced without revision, and failed—as, no doubt, it
would have done under any circumstances.

As Miss Burney’s strength returned, she seems to have fallen back into
the indolent life of visiting and party-going which she was leading when
she joined the Royal Household. She saw once more the failing Sir
Joshua, who had worked at her deliverance as if she had been his own
daughter; though he passed from the scene before she found an
opportunity of thanking him for his exertions. She attended a great
public breakfast given by Mrs. Montagu, whose famous Feather Room and
dining-room were thronged by hundreds of guests, and looked like a full
Ranelagh by daylight. At this entertainment she met Mrs. Hastings, whose
splendid dress, loaded with ornaments, gave her the appearance of an
Indian princess. At another breakfast Fanny encountered Boswell, who had
excited her displeasure by his revelation of Johnson’s infirmities, and
who provoked her again by telling anecdotes of the great Samuel, and
acting them with open buffoonery. During the Session, she spent much of
her time at the Hastings trial, listening to the defence conducted by
Law, Dallas, and Plomer, and rallying Windham on the sarcasms aimed by
Law at the heated rhetoric of Burke. The great orator himself she rarely
encountered on these occasions. In June, 1792, however, she spent a day
with him at Mrs. Crewe’s house on Hampstead Hill.

  “The villa at Hampstead is small, but commodious. We were received by
  Mrs. Crewe with much kindness. The room was rather dark, and she had a
  veil to her bonnet, half down, and with this aid she looked still in a
  full blaze of beauty.... She is certainly, in my eyes, the most
  completely a beauty of any woman I ever saw. I know not, even now, any
  female in her first youth who could bear the comparison. She uglifies
  everything near her. Her son was with her. He is just of age, and
  looks like her elder brother! he is a heavy, old-looking young man. He
  is going to China with Lord Macartney.[108]

  “My former friend, young Burke, was also there. I was glad to renew
  acquaintance with him; though I could see some little strangeness in
  him: this, however, completely wore off before the day was over. Soon
  after entered Mrs. Burke, Miss French, a niece, and Mr. Richard Burke,
  the comic, humorous, bold, queer brother of _the_ Mr. Burke.... Mrs.
  Burke was just what I have always seen her, soft, gentle, reasonable,
  and obliging; and we met, I think, upon as good terms as if so many
  years had not parted us.

  “At length Mr. Burke appeared, accompanied by Mr. Elliot. He shook
  hands with my father as soon as he had paid his devoirs to Mrs. Crewe,
  but he returned my curtsey with so distant a bow, that I concluded
  myself quite lost with him, from my evident solicitude in poor Mr.
  Hastings’s cause. I could not wish that less obvious, thinking as I
  think of it; but I felt infinitely grieved to lose the favour of a man
  whom, in all other articles, I so much venerate, and whom, indeed, I
  esteem and admire as the very first man of true genius now living in
  this country.

  “Mrs. Crewe introduced me to Mr. Elliot: I am sure we were already
  personally known to each other, for I have seen him perpetually in the
  Managers’ Box, whence, as often, he must have seen me in the Great
  Chamberlain’s. He is a tall, thin young man, plain in face, dress, and
  manner, but sensible, and possibly much besides; he was reserved,
  however, and little else appeared.

  “The moment I was named, to my great joy I found Mr. Burke had not
  recollected me. He is more near-sighted considerably than myself.
  ‘Miss Burney!’ he now exclaimed, coming forward, and quite kindly
  taking my hand, ‘I did not see you;’ and then he spoke very sweet
  words of the meeting, and of my looking far better than ‘while I was a
  courtier,’ and of how he rejoiced to see that I so little suited that
  station. ‘You look,’ cried he, ‘quite renewed, revived, disengaged;
  you seemed, when I conversed with you last at the trial, quite
  altered; I never saw such a change for the better as quitting a Court
  has brought about!’

  “Ah! thought I, this is simply a mistake from reasoning according to
  your own feelings. I only seemed altered for the worse at the trial,
  because I there looked coldly and distantly, from distaste and
  disaffection to your proceedings; and I here look changed for the
  better, only because I here meet you without the chill of
  disapprobation, and with the glow of my first admiration of you and
  your talents!

  “Mrs. Crewe gave him her place, and he sat by me, and entered into a
  most animated conversation upon Lord Macartney and his Chinese
  expedition, and the two Chinese youths who were to accompany it. These
  last he described minutely, and spoke of the extent of the undertaking
  in high, and perhaps fanciful, terms, but with allusions and anecdotes
  intermixed, so full of general information and brilliant ideas, that I
  soon felt the whole of my first enthusiasm return, and with it a
  sensation of pleasure that made the day delicious to me.

  “After this my father joined us, and politics took the lead. He spoke
  then with an eagerness and a vehemence that instantly banished the
  graces, though it redoubled the energies, of his discourse. ‘The
  French Revolution,’ he said, ‘which began by authorizing and
  legalizing injustice, and which by rapid steps had proceeded to every
  species of despotism except owning a despot, was now menacing all the
  universe and all mankind with the most violent concussion of principle
  and order.’ My father heartily joined, and I tacitly assented to his
  doctrines, though I feared not with his fears.

  “One speech I must repeat, for it is explanatory of his conduct, and
  nobly explanatory. When he had expatiated upon the present dangers,
  even to English liberty and property, from the contagion of havoc and
  novelty, he earnestly exclaimed, ‘This it is that has made ME an
  abettor and supporter of Kings! Kings are necessary, and, if we would
  preserve peace and prosperity, we must preserve THEM. We must all put
  our shoulders to the work! Ay, and stoutly, too!’...

  “At dinner Mr. Burke sat next Mrs. Crewe, and I had the happiness to
  be seated next Mr. Burke; and my other neighbour was his amiable son.

  “The dinner, and the dessert when the servants were removed, were
  delightful. How I wish my dear Susanna and Fredy[109] could meet this
  wonderful man when he is easy, happy, and with people he cordially
  likes! But politics, even on his own side, must always be excluded;
  his irritability is so terrible on that theme that it gives
  immediately to his face the expression of a man who is going to defend
  himself from murderers....

  “Charles Fox being mentioned, Mrs. Crewe told us that he had lately
  said, upon being shown some passage in Mr. Burke’s book which he had
  warmly opposed, but which had, in the event, made its own
  justification, very candidly, ‘Well! Burke is right—but Burke is often
  right, only he is right too soon.’

  “‘Had Fox seen some things in that book,’ answered Mr. Burke, ‘as
  soon, he would at this moment, in all probability, be first minister
  of this country.’

  “‘What!’ cried Mrs. Crewe, ‘with Pitt?—No!—no!—Pitt won’t go out, and
  Charles Fox will never make a coalition with Pitt.’

  “‘And why not?’ said Mr. Burke dryly! ‘why not this coalition as well
  as other coalitions?’

  “Nobody tried to answer this.

  “‘Charles Fox, however,’ said Mr. Burke, afterwards, ‘can never
  internally like the French Revolution. He is entangled; but, in
  himself, if he should find no other objection to it, he has at least
  too much taste for such a revolution.’...

  “Mr. Richard Burke related, very comically, various censures cast upon
  his brother, accusing him of being the friend of despots, and the
  abettor of slavery, because he had been shocked at the imprisonment of
  the King of France, and was anxious to preserve our own limited
  monarchy in the same state in which it so long had flourished.

  “Mr. Burke looked half alarmed at his brother’s opening, but, when he
  had finished, he very good-humouredly poured out a glass of wine, and,
  turning to me, said, ‘Come, then—here’s slavery for ever!’ This was
  well understood, and echoed round the table with hearty laughter.

  “‘This would do for you completely, Mr. Burke,’ said Mrs. Crewe, ‘if
  it could get into a newspaper! Mr. Burke, they would say, has now
  spoken out; the truth has come to light unguardedly, and his real
  defection from the cause of true liberty is acknowledged. I should
  like to draw up the paragraph!’

  “‘And add,’ said Mr. Burke, ‘the toast was addressed to Miss Burney,
  in order to pay court to the Queen!’”... After a stroll:

  “The party returned with two very singular additions to its number—
  Lord Loughborough, and Mr. and Mrs. Erskine. They have villas at
  Hampstead, and were met in the walk; Mr. Erskine else would not,
  probably, have desired to meet Mr. Burke, who openly in the House of
  Commons asked him if he knew what friendship meant, when he pretended
  to call him, Mr. Burke, his friend?

  “There was an evident disunion of the cordiality of the party from
  this time. My father, Mr. Richard Burke, his nephew, and Mr. Elliot
  entered into some general discourse; Mr. Burke took up a volume of
  Boileau, and read aloud, though to himself, and with a pleasure that
  soon made him seem to forget all intruders: Lord Loughborough joined
  Mrs. Burke, and Mr. Erskine, seating himself next to Mrs. Crewe,
  engrossed her entirely, yet talked loud enough for all to hear who
  were not engaged themselves.

  “For me, I sat next Mrs. Erskine, who seems much a woman of the world,
  for she spoke with me just as freely, and readily, and easily as if we
  had been old friends.

  “Mr. Erskine enumerated all his avocations to Mrs. Crewe, and, amongst
  others, mentioned, very calmly, having to plead against Mr. Crewe upon
  a manor business in Cheshire. Mrs. Crewe hastily and alarmed,
  interrupted him, to inquire what he meant, and what might ensue to Mr.
  Crewe? ‘Oh, nothing but the loss of the lordship upon that spot,’ he
  coolly answered; ‘but I don’t know that it will be given against him:
  I only know I shall have three hundred pounds for it.’

  “Mrs. Crewe looked thoughtful; and Mr. Erskine then began to speak of
  the new Association for Reform, by the friends of the people, headed
  by Messrs. Grey and Sheridan, and sustained by Mr. Fox, and openly
  opposed by Mr. Windham, as well as Mr. Burke. He said much of the use
  they had made of his name, though he had never yet been to the
  society; and I began to understand that he meant to disavow it; but
  presently he added, ‘I don’t know whether I shall ever attend—I have
  so much to do—so little time; however, the people must be supported.’

  “‘Pray, will you tell me,’ said Mrs. Crewe dryly, ‘what you mean by
  the people? I never knew.’

  “He looked surprised, but evaded any answer, and soon after took his
  leave, with his wife, who seems by no means to admire him as much as
  he admires himself, if I may judge by short odd speeches which dropped
  from her. The eminence of Mr. Erskine seems all for public life; in
  private, his excessive egotisms undo him.

  “Lord Loughborough instantly took his seat next to Mrs. Crewe; and
  presently related a speech which Mr. Erskine has lately made at some
  public meeting, and which he opened to this effect:—‘As to me,
  gentlemen, I have some title to give my opinions freely. Would you
  know what my title is derived from? I challenge any man to inquire! If
  he ask my birth,—its genealogy may dispute with kings! If my wealth,
  it is all for which I have time to hold out my hand! If my talents,—
  No! of those, gentlemen, I leave you to judge for yourselves!’

  “But I have now time for no more upon this day, except that Mr. and
  Mrs. Burke, in making their exit, gave my father and me the most
  cordial invitation to Beaconsfield in the course of the summer or
  autumn. And, indeed, I should delight to accept it.”

The second half of this year was consumed by a round of visits,
commencing in town, and ending in Norfolk. On leaving London, Miss
Burney accompanied her eldest sister into Essex, where they spent some
time together at Halstead Vicarage. From this place, Fanny went alone to
stay at Bradfield Hall, near Bury St. Edmunds, with the family of the
agriculturist, Arthur Young,[110] who had married a sister of the second
Mrs. Burney.

All over the country, in the autumn of 1792, two subjects only were
talked of, the Revolution in France, and the adventures of the emigrants
to England. Little settlements of refugees had been, or were being,
formed in various districts. One coterie had established themselves at
Richmond, where they received much attention from Horace Walpole. Other
unfortunates found their way to Bury. A third colony, and not the least
important, sought retirement in the Vale of Mickleham. The fugitives, of
course, were not only of different ranks, but of different political
complexions. The Revolution had begun to devour its children; and some
of the exiles had helped to raise the passion which swept them away.
Suffolk had been visited in the spring by the celebrated Countess of
Genlis, governess to the children of Philip Egalité, Duke of Orleans.
This lady, who was now called Madame de Sillery, or Brulard, hired a
house at Bury for herself and her party, which included an authentic
Mademoiselle d’Orléans, besides the Pamela who afterwards married Lord
Edward Fitzgerald, and another young girl. Her establishment also
comprised a number of men, who were treated by the ladies sometimes as
servants, sometimes as equals. The vagaries of this curious household
and its mistress provoked comments which drove them from the county
before Miss Burney entered it. It was rumoured that Madame Brulard’s
departure was hastened by the arrival of the Duke de Liancourt, who
warmly denounced her influence over her infamous protector as a
principal cause of the French anarchy. Yet the nobleman just named was
himself known as a friend of the people. He it was who, bursting into
the King’s closet to report the fall of the Bastille, had been the first
to utter the word _Revolution_. Arthur Young, who, like most other
well-to-do Englishmen at that moment, was ready to forswear every
popular principle he had formerly professed, inveighed against the
Duke’s folly, while he pitied the misfortunes of a man to whom his
travels had laid him under obligation. Fanny met the new-comer at her
host’s table, and heard from his own lips the story of his escape from
France. Being in command at Rouen when news of the bloody Tenth of
August reached that city, and finding a price set on his head by the
Jacobins, De Liancourt, with some difficulty, made his way to the sea,
where he embarked in an open boat, and set sail, covered with faggots,
for the opposite coast. He entertained his friends at Bradfield Hall
with an account of his landing at Hastings, describing how he had walked
to the nearest public-house, and, to seem English, had called for ‘_pot
portère_,’ and then, being extremely thirsty, for another; how, overcome
by the strange liquor, he had been carried upstairs in a helpless state,
and put to bed; how he had woke up before day-break in a miserable room,
and fancied himself in a French _maison de force_; how, on creeping
cautiously below, the sight of the kitchen, with its array of bright
pewter plates and polished saucepans, had convinced him that he must be
in a more cleanly country than his native land. What had brought the
Duke to Bury we are not informed: he certainly would not have been at
home with Walpole’s friends, who seem to have been staunch adherents of
the _ancien régime_.

Some, though not all, of the strangers at Mickleham had advanced several
degrees beyond the timid constitutionalism of the Duke de Liancourt. The
origin and early history of this settlement were communicated to Fanny
by the journalizing letters of her sister, Mrs. Phillips. Two or three
families had united to take a house near the village, called Juniper
Hall, while another family hired a cottage at West Humble, which the
owner let with great reluctance, ‘upon the Christian-like supposition
that, being nothing but French papishes, they would never pay.’ The
party at the cottage were presided over by Madame de Broglie,
daughter-in-law of the Maréchal who had commanded the Royalist troops
near Paris. Among the first occupants of Juniper Hall were Narbonne,
recently Constitutionalist Minister of War, and Montmorency, _ci-devant
duc_, from whom had proceeded the motion for suppressing titles of
nobility in France. When Mrs. Phillips made the acquaintance of her new
neighbours, they had been reinforced by fresh arrivals, including an
officer of whom she had not yet heard. This was M. d’Arblay,[111] who,
Susan was told, had been Adjutant-General to her favourite hero,
Lafayette, when that leader surrendered himself to the Allies. On the
chief being sent prisoner to Olmutz, the subordinate was permitted to
withdraw into Holland, whence he was now come to join his intimate
friend and patron, Count Louis de Narbonne. ‘He is tall,’ wrote Mrs.
Phillips to her sister, ‘and a good figure, with an open and manly
countenance; about forty, I imagine.’

The letters from Mickleham were soon full of this General d’Arblay, who
won the heart of good Mrs. Phillips by his amiable manners, and his
attention to her children, while he fortified her in her French
politics, which, to say the truth, were too advanced for Fanny’s
acceptance. Both the General and Narbonne were attached to their
unfortunate master, but considered that they had been very badly treated
by Louis, and that it was impossible to serve him, because he could not
trust himself, and in consequence distrusted everybody else. D’Arblay
had been the officer on guard at the Tuileries on the night of the
famous Flight to Varennes. He had not been let into the secret of the
plan, but was left, without warning, to run the risk of being denounced
and murdered for having assisted the King’s escape.

Miss Burney was now in Norfolk with her sister Charlotte. But this visit
to her native county proved the reverse of joyful. Soon after her
arrival at Aylsham, Mr. Francis, her brother-in-law, was seized with an
attack of apoplexy, which ended in his death. During his illness, she
interested herself in the accounts of Juniper Hall—she had already heard
something of M. d’Arblay from the Duke de Liancourt—but her attention
was mainly engrossed by the distress of those around her. When all was
over, she remained to assist the widow in settling her affairs, and at
the close of the year accompanied her and the children to London.


Footnote 108:

    1737-1806. Lord Macartney’s mission to China was narrated in two
    interesting works, _Macartney’s Journal_, and _Staunton’s ‘Account
    of the Embassy.’_

Footnote 109:

    Mrs. Locke.

Footnote 110:

  Born in 1741, died in 1821; author of many works on agricultural and
  economical subjects. His “Travels in France” were published in this
  very year—1792.

Footnote 111:

  Alexander d’Arblay was born at Joigny, near Paris. He entered the
  French artillery at thirteen years of age. He was commandant at
  Longwy, promoted into Narbonne’s regiment, and in 1792 made _maréchal
  de camp_, or, as we should say, brigadier general.


                              CHAPTER XII.

Miss Burney at Norbury Park—Execution of the French King—Madame de Staël
  and Talleyrand at Mickleham—Miss Burney’s Impressions of M. d’Arblay—
  Proposed Marriage—Visit to Chesington—The Marriage takes place—A Happy
  Match—The General as Gardener—Madame d’Arblay resumes her Pen—Birth of
  a Son—‘Edwy and Elgiva’—Acquittal of Warren Hastings—Publishing Plans—
  The Subscription List—Publication of ‘Camilla’—Visit of the Author to
  Windsor—Interview with the King and Queen—A Compliment from their
  Majesties—The Royal Family on the Terrace—Princess Elizabeth—Great
  Sale of ‘Camilla’—Criticisms on the Work—Declension of Madame
  d’Arblay’s Style—Camilla Cottage—Wedded Happiness—Madame d’Arblay’s
  Comedy of ‘Love and Fashion’ withdrawn—Death of Mrs. Phillips—
  Straitened Circumstances—The d’Arblays go to France—Popularity of
  Bonaparte—Reception at the Tuileries and Review—War between England
  and France—Disappointments—Life at Passy—Difficulty of Correspondence—
  Madame d’Arblay’s Desire to return to England—Sails from Dunkirk.

On the opening of 1793, the French Constitutionalists were at the lowest
point of depression and disgrace. They were reviled on all hands for
having given weight and impetus to a movement which they were impotent
to control. Norbury Park and Mickleham were eager that Miss Burney
should see their new friends and judge them for herself. “Your French
colonies,” she wrote in reply to Mrs. Locke’s pressing invitation, “are
truly attractive: I am sure they must be so to have caught me—so
substantially, fundamentally the foe of all their proceedings while in
power.” Having tarried long enough to pay her birthday duty to the
Queen, she left London at the commencement of the season, and went down
to Surrey. A day or two after her arrival came the news of the French
King’s execution. The excitement caused by this intelligence quickened
the already frequent intercourse between the Lockes and Juniper Hall,
and Fanny soon found herself on familiar terms with the refugees. Before
the end of January, Madame de Staël appeared on the scene, and placed
herself at the head of the little colony. Necker’s daughter had earned
the rage of the Commune by her exertions to save life during the
massacres of August and September; nor was it at all clear that the
privilege which she enjoyed as wife of the Swedish Ambassador would
avail for her protection. She had, therefore, crossed the Channel, and
now joined her Constitutionalist friends at Juniper Hall, whither she
was soon followed by Talleyrand, who had come to England in her company.
No other party of refugees could boast two names of equal distinction,
though French titles had become plentiful as blackberries in several
parts of England. Madame de Staël paid the most flattering attention to
the author of ‘Cecilia,’ whose second novel had procured her
considerable reputation in Paris. A warm but short-lived intimacy
between the two ladies ensued. No two persons could be less suited to
one another than our timid, prudish little Burney and the brilliant and
audacious French _femme de lettres_. The public acts of the Bishop of
Autun—‘the viper that had cast his skin,’ as Walpole called him—had not
inclined Fanny in his favour; but his extraordinary powers conquered her
admiration, and as she listened to the exchanges of wit, criticism, and
raillery between him and Madame de Staël, she could see for the moment
no blemishes in either, and looked on the little band of exiles, some of
whom could almost vie with these leaders, as rare spirits from some
brighter world. The group, consisting at different times of some dozen
persons,[112] were all most agreeable; but one, perhaps the least
dazzling of the whole constellation, proved more attractive than the

“M. d’Arblay,” wrote Fanny, “is one of the most singularly interesting
characters that can ever have been formed. He has a sincerity, a
frankness, an ingenuous openness of nature, that I have been unjust
enough to think could not belong to a Frenchman. With all this, which is
his military portion, he is passionately fond of literature, a most
delicate critic in his own language, well versed in both Italian and
German, and a very elegant poet. He has just undertaken to become my
French master for pronunciation, and he gives me long daily lessons in
reading. Pray expect wonderful improvements! In return, I hear him in

The natural consequences followed. In a few days we read: “I have been
scholaring all day, and mastering too; for our lessons are mutual, and
more entertaining than can easily be conceived.” Our novelist, in short,
was more romantic than any of her own creations: Evelina, Cecilia, and
Camilla were prosaic women compared with Frances. On the verge of
forty-one, she gave away her heart to an admirer, suitable to her in
age, indeed, but possessing neither fortune, occupation, nor prospects
of any kind. Whatever property d’Arblay could claim, the Convention had
confiscated. Fanny herself had nothing but the small annuity which she
enjoyed during the Queen’s pleasure, and which might be discontinued if
she married this Roman Catholic alien. Such a match, in any case,
implied seclusion almost as complete as that from which she had recently
escaped. This was anything but the issue that her father had been
promised when he was pressed to sanction her resignation. It is not
surprising, therefore, that he wrote her a remonstrance stronger and
more decided than he had been in the habit of addressing to any of his
children. But Dr. Burney stood alone. The Lockes and Phillipses were as
much fascinated by their French neighbours as his enamoured daughter.
Susanna was in avowed league with the enemy. Mr. Locke gave it as his
opinion that two persons, with one or more babies, might very well
subsist on a hundred a year. Thus assailed by opposing influences, Fanny
went to deliberate in solitude at Chesington, and sauntered about the
lanes where she had planned ‘Cecilia,’ wondering if the Muse would ever
visit her again. The General’s pursuing letters convinced her that his
grief at her hesitation was sincere and profound. He made a pilgrimage
to see her, which vouched his devotion, and gained him the support of
her simple hostesses, Mrs. Hamilton and Kitty Cooke, who wept at his
tale of misfortunes, and learned for the first time what was meant by
the French Revolution. Finally, through the mediation of his favourite
Susanna, Dr. Burney was persuaded to give way and send a reluctant
consent. The wedding took place on the 31st of July, 1793, in Mickleham
Church, in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Locke, Captain and Mrs.
Phillips, M. de Narbonne, and Captain Burney, who acted as proxy for his
father. On the following day, the ceremony was repeated at the Sardinian
Chapel in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, according to the rites of the Romish

The marriage proved eminently happy. Dr. Burney, though he shrank from
giving away the bride, was a respecter of accomplished facts, and soon
became on excellent terms with his new son-in-law. The late impetuous
lovers proceeded to translate their romance into the most sober prose.
Love in a cottage had been the goal of their ambition. Mr. Locke had
promised a site for the cottage; but as funds for building it were not
immediately forthcoming, the pair went first into farm lodgings,
afterwards into a hired house of two or three rooms at Bookham, within
two miles of Mickleham and Norbury Park. D’Arblay, a man of real honour,
would have left his wife, almost in their honeymoon, to fight for Louis
XVII. at Toulon; but his offer of service was declined by the English
Government, and thenceforth the General resigned himself to wait for
better times. Like a sensible man, _il cultivait son jardin_. Like a man
of sense, but not like a good husbandman. His wife, who, notwithstanding
her happiness, seems to have lost her sense of humour very soon after
matrimony, enjoyed one of her last hearty laughs at the expense of her

  “This sort of work is so totally new to him, that he receives every
  now and then some of poor Merlin’s[113] ‘disagreeable compliments’;
  for when Mr. Locke’s or the Captain’s gardeners favour our grounds
  with a visit, they commonly make known that all has been done wrong.
  Seeds are sowing in some parts when plants ought to be reaping, and
  plants are running to seed while they are thought not yet at maturity.
  Our garden, therefore, is not yet quite the most profitable thing in
  the world; but M. d’A. assures me it is to be the staff of our table
  and existence.

  “A little, too, he has been unfortunate; for, after immense toil in
  planting and transplanting strawberries round our hedge here at
  Bookham, he has just been informed they will bear no fruit the first
  year, and the second we may be ‘over the hills and far away.’

  “Another time, too, with great labour, he cleared a considerable
  compartment of weeds; and when it looked clean and well, and he showed
  his work to the gardener, the man said he had demolished an asparagus
  bed! M. d’A. protested, however, nothing could look more like _des
  mauvaises herbes_.

  “His greatest passion is for transplanting. Everything we possess he
  moves from one end of the garden to another to produce better effects.
  Roses take place of jessamines, jessamines of honeysuckles, and
  honeysuckles of lilacs, till they have all danced round as far as the
  space allows; but whether the effect may not be a general mortality,
  summer only can determine.

  “Such is our horticultural history. But I must not omit that we have
  had for one week cabbages from our own cultivation every day! Oh, you
  have no idea how sweet they tasted! We agreed they had a freshness and
  a _goût_ we had never met with before. We had them for too short a
  time to grow tired of them, because, as I have already hinted, they
  were beginning to run to seed before we knew they were eatable.”

While the General was gardening, Madame plied her pen, using it once
more, after the lapse of a dozen years, with a definite purpose of
publication. Her first composition was for a charitable object. It was
an address to the ladies of England on behalf of the emigrant French
clergy, who, to the number of 6,000, were suffering terrible distress
all over the country. This short paper is an early example of the
stilted rhetoric which gradually ruined its author’s style. Some months
later we hear of a more important work being in progress. This tale,
eventually published under the title of ‘Camilla,’ was commenced in the
summer of 1794, though it did not see the light till July, 1796.

A son, their only child, was born on December 18, 1794, and was baptized
Alexander Charles Louis Piochard, receiving the name of his father, with
those of his two god-fathers, Dr. Charles Burney the younger, and the
Count de Narbonne.

An illness, which retarded the mother’s recovery, interrupted the
progress of her novel, and perhaps counted for something in the failure
of the tragedy with which, as we mentioned before, she tempted fortune
on the stage. ‘Edwy and Elgiva’—so this drama was called—was produced at
Drury Lane on March 21, 1795. It says much for the author’s repute that
John Kemble warmly recommended her work to Sheridan, who seems to have
accepted it without hesitation or criticism. The principal characters
were undertaken by Kemble and Mrs. Siddons. At the close of the
performance, it was announced that the piece was withdrawn for
alterations. There was a little complaint that several of the actors
were careless and unprepared; but, on the whole, Madame d’Arblay bore
her defeat with excellent temper. She consoled herself with the thought
that her play had not been written for the theatre, nor even revised for
the press; that the manuscript had been obtained from her during her
confinement; and that she had been prevented by ill-health from
attending rehearsals, and making the changes which, on the night of
representation, even her unprofessional judgment perceived to be
essential. Yet it is difficult to imagine that a tragedy by the author
of ‘Evelina’ could, under any circumstances, have been successful; and
we are more surprised that Sheridan was so complaisant than that Dr.
Burney had always shrugged his shoulders when the Saxon drama was
mentioned in his hearing.

Three years sooner the dramatist would have felt her personal mishap
more keenly, as she would have welcomed with far livelier pleasure an
event of a public nature which occurred shortly afterwards. On April 23,
1795, Warren Hastings was triumphantly acquitted. The incident hardly
stirred her at all. She was now experiencing that detachment which is
the portion of ladies even of social and literary tastes, when they have
accomplished the great function of womanhood. Her father writes her a
pleasant account of his London life, relating some characteristic
condolences which he had received from Cumberland on the fate of her
play, mentioning his own visit of congratulation to Hastings, and
chatting about the doings at the Literary Club. The blissful mother
replies in a letter, dated from the ‘Hermitage, Bookham,’ which is
principally occupied with praises of rural retirement and the
intelligent infant, though it ends with some words about the tragedy,
and a postscript expressing satisfaction at the acquittal. Not long
before, Frances Burney had repined at living in what she rather inaptly
called a monastery: Frances d’Arblay is more than content with the
company of her gardener and their little ‘perennial plant.’ At her
marriage, she had counted on having the constant society of Susanna and
her Captain, as well as the Lockes; but in June, 1795, the Phillipses
remove to town, and are not missed. The Bambino not only supplied all
gaps, but made his willing slave work as hard at ‘Camilla’ as, long
years before, she had worked at ‘Cecilia’ under the jealous eye of her
Chesington daddy.

She was now as keen as Crisp would have had her be in calculating how
she could make most money by her pen. ‘I determined,’ she says, ‘when I
changed my state, to set aside all my innate and original abhorrences,
and to regard and use as resources myself what had always been
considered as such by others. Without this idea and this resolution, our
hermitage must have been madness.’ She had formerly objected to a plan,
suggested for her by Burke, of publishing by subscription, with the aid
of ladies, instead of booksellers, to keep lists and receive names of
subscribers. She determined to adopt this plan in bringing out
‘Camilla.’ The Dowager Duchess of Leinster, Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Crewe,
and Mrs. Locke, gave her the required assistance. In issuing her
proposals, she was careful not to excite the prejudice which still
prevailed against works of fiction.[114] She remembered that the word
_novel_ had long stood in the way of ‘Cecilia’ at Windsor, and that the
Princesses had not been allowed to read it until it had been declared
innocent by a bishop. ‘Camilla,’ she warned her friends, was ‘not to be
a romance, but sketches of characters and morals put in action.’ It was,
therefore, announced simply as ‘a new work by the author of Evelina and
Cecilia.’ The manuscript was completed by the end of 1795; but, as in
the case of ‘Cecilia,’ six months more elapsed before the day of
publication arrived.

Meanwhile, the subscription-list filled up nobly. When Warren Hastings
heard what was going forward, we are told that “he gave a great jump,
and exclaimed, ‘Well, then, now I can serve her, thank Heaven, and I
will! I will write to Anderson to engage Scotland, and I will attack the
East Indies myself!’” Nor was Edmund Burke less zealous than his old
enemy. Protesting that for personal friends the subscription ought to be
five guineas instead of one, he asked for but one copy of ‘Camilla’ in
return for twenty guineas which he sent on behalf of himself, his wife,
his dead brother Richard, and the son for whom he was in mourning. In
the same spirit, three Misses Thrale order ten sets of the book. As we
glance down the pages of the list, we meet with most of the survivors of
the old Blue Stockings, with Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Chapone, Mrs. Montagu,
and Hannah Moore. There, too, are many literary women of other types:
Anna Barbauld, Amelia Alderson, afterwards Mrs. Opie, Mary Berry, Maria
Edgeworth, Sophia and Harriet Lee.[115] There the incomparable Jane
Austen, then a girl of twenty, pays tribute to a passed mistress of her
future art. There also figure the names of many of the writer’s former
colleagues in the royal household. Even Mrs. Schwellenberg is on the
list. Perhaps, as the book was to be dedicated by permission to the
Queen, this was almost a matter of course. But the subscription was, in
fact, a testimonial to a general favourite from hundreds of attached
friends, some of whom cared little for literature; as well as from a
crowd of distant admirers, who regarded her as the most eminent female
writer of her time.

The first parcel of ‘Camilla; or, A Picture of Youth,’ reached Bookham
on an early day in July, 1796; and Madame d’Arblay at once set off for
Windsor to present copies to the King and Queen. Immediately on her
arrival, she was admitted to an audience of the Queen, during which the
King entered to receive his share of the offering. The excellent monarch
was in one of his most interrogative moods, and particularly curious to
learn who had corrected the proofs of the volumes before him. His
flattered subject confessed that she was her own reader. ‘Why, some
authors have told me,’ cried he, ‘that they are the last to do that work
for themselves! They know so well by heart what ought to be, that they
run on without seeing what is. They have told me, besides, that a mere
plodding head is best and surest for that work, and that the livelier
the imagination, the less it should be trusted to.’ Madame had carried
her husband with her to Windsor. They were detained there three days;
and, as Walpole remarks with some emphasis, even M. d’Arblay was allowed
to dine. Horace means, of course, that the General, who had the Cross of
St. Louis, was invited to a place at Mdlle. Jacobi’s table. Just before
dinner, Madame d’Arblay was called aside by her entertainer, and
presented, in the name of their Majesties, with a packet containing a
hundred guineas, as a ‘compliment’ in acknowledgment of her dedication.

On the following day, the Chevalier and his wife repaired to the
Terrace. “The evening was so raw and cold that there was very little
company, and scarce any expectation of the Royal Family; and when we had
been there about half an hour the musicians retreated, and everybody was
preparing to follow, when a messenger suddenly came forward,
helter-skelter, running after the horns and clarionets, and hallooing to
them to return. This brought back the straggling parties, and the King,
Duke of York, and six Princesses soon appeared.... The King stopped to
speak to the Bishop of Norwich[116] and some others at the entrance, and
then walked on towards us, who were at the further end. As he
approached, the Princess Royal said, ‘Madame d’Arblay, sir;’ and
instantly he came on a step, and then stopped and addressed me, and
after a word or two of the weather, he said, ‘Is that M. d’Arblay?’ and
most graciously bowed to him, and entered into a little conversation,
demanding how long he had been in England, how long in the country, etc.
Upon the King’s bowing and leaving us, the Commander-in-Chief most
courteously bowed also to M. d’Arblay; and the Princesses all came up to
speak to me, and to curtsey to him, and the Princess Elizabeth cried,
‘I’ve got leave! and mamma says she won’t wait to read it first!’”

The lively Princess, who was then twenty-six years of age, and had been
concerned in bringing out a poem entitled the ‘Birth of Love,’ with
engravings from designs by herself, intended to communicate that she had
obtained permission to read ‘Camilla,’ though it had not yet been
examined by her mother.

The subscribers to the new novel exceeded eleven hundred; but the number
of copies printed was four thousand. Out of these only five hundred
remained at the end of three months—a rate of sale considerably more
rapid than that of ‘Cecilia’ had been. Macaulay mentions a rumour that
the author cleared more than three thousand guineas by her work. This is
not an improbable account; for Dr. Burney told Lord Orford within the
first six weeks that about two thousand pounds had already been
realized.[117] The material results were astonishing; yet ‘Camilla’
could not be considered a success. The ‘Picture of Youth’ had neither
the freshness of ‘Evelina,’ nor the mature power of ‘Cecilia.’ It was
wanting alike in simplicity and polish. By disuse of her art, the writer
had lost touch with the public; by neglect of reading, she had gone back
in literary culture. Hence it was generally felt that the charm which
she had exercised was gone. The reviews were severe; new admirers
appeared not; old friends found their faith a good deal tried. When the
first demand was satisfied, there seems to have been no call for a fresh
edition, though some years afterwards Miss Austen boldly coupled[118]
‘Camilla’ with ‘Cecilia’ as a ‘work in which most thorough knowledge of
human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest
effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world.’ When its five
volumes were most sharply handled, brother Charles could console the
chagrined author with the distich:

              ‘Now heed no more what critics thought ’em,
              Since this you know, all people bought ’em.’

The composition of ‘Camilla’ has been blamed for the opposite faults of
affectation and slovenliness. ‘Every passage,’ says Macaulay, ‘which the
author meant to be fine is detestable; and the book has been saved from
condemnation only by the admirable spirit and force of those scenes in
which she was content to be familiar.’ Other censors have observed that,
while the rhetoric is inflated, the grammar is occasionally doubtful,
and the diction sometimes barbarous. Now, it must be owned that the
ordinary vocabulary of the Burneys was not remarkable for purity or
elegance. In their talk and intimate letters, both the father and the
daughters expressed themselves in the most colloquial forms, not seldom
lapsing into downright slang. To give one instance only, the atrocious
vulgarism of ‘an invite’ for ‘an invitation’ occurs in several parts of
the Diary. When writing for the press, Dr. Burney guarded himself by the
adoption of a wholly artificial style, that swelled, from time to time,
into tedious magniloquence. Fanny was schooled for writing ‘Cecilia’ by
the critical discussions of the Streatham circle, by much intercourse
with Johnson, and by some study of style—chiefly the style of the
‘Ramblers’ and ‘Lives of the Poets.’ Having despatched her second novel,
she ceased to be careful about literary questions. This indifference
increased after her marriage. When describing the reception of ‘Camilla’
at Windsor, ‘the Queen,’ she writes, ‘talked of some books and authors,
but found me wholly in the clouds as to all that is new.’ Her husband,
insensible, of course, to the niceties of a foreign idiom, but
apparently admiring pompous phraseology, conceived a relish for Dr.
Burney’s style; and Madame, delighting to think her ‘dear father’
perfect, was pleased to place his English in the very first class.[119]
The eloquence of ‘Camilla’ seems to mingle faint Johnsonian echoes with
the stilted movement of the music-master’s prose; while too often the
choice of words is left to chance. A recent editor of the two earlier
novels has called attention to the numerous vulgarities of expression,
not put into vulgar mouths, which occur in ‘Camilla.’ ‘People “_stroam_
the fields,” or have “a depressing _feel_.”’ This editor suggests that
Miss Burney’s five years at Court may have done much to spoil her
English, remarking that ‘she lived at Windsor among hybrids.’ By
‘hybrids’ we suppose we are to understand equerries. But the equerries,
if not possessing great culture, were, at any rate, gentlemen of good
position. If they used the incriminated phrases why not also the
personages of the novel? We take it, however, that ‘to stroam the
fields’ is not a low phrase acquired by Fanny at Court, but a
provincialism which she learned in her native county, where the verb to
‘stroam,’ or to ‘strome,’ was certainly in use a hundred years ago,[120]
and is, we are assured, familiarly employed at the present day. We
believe that Madame d’Arblay’s English was ruined, not by associating
with Colonel Digby, or even Colonel Manners, but by neglect of reading,
by retirement from lettered society, by fading recollections of Johnson,
by untoward family influences, and by a strong hereditary tendency to
run into fustian.

In October, 1796, Dr. Burney lost his second wife, who, after a
prolonged period of ill-health, died at Chelsea Hospital. To prevent him
from brooding over his bereavement, Madame d’Arblay induced her father
to resume a poetical history of astronomy which he had begun some time
before. This occupation amused him for some time, though in the end the
poem, which ran to a great length, was destroyed unfinished.

Out of the profits made by his wife’s publication, M. d’Arblay built a
small house on land leased to him by Mr. Locke at West Humble, near
Dorking, and called it Camilla Cottage. If a family, as well as a
nation, is happy that has no history, we must conclude that the
d’Arblays lived very much at ease for some years after their removal to
their new abode. When the excitement of planning, building, and taking
possession is exhausted, Madame’s pen finds little to record, beyond the
details of occasional interviews with the Queen and Princesses at
Buckingham House. She wisely declines a proposal of Mrs. Crewe to make
her directress of a weekly paper, which was to have been started, under
the name of _The Breakfast-Table_, to combat the progress of Jacobinical
ideas. Later on she abandons unwillingly a venture of a different kind.
Still thirsting for dramatic success, she had written a comedy called
‘Love and Fashion;’ and towards the close of 1799 was congratulating
herself on having it accepted by the manager of Covent Garden
Theatre.[121] The piece was put into rehearsal early in the following
spring; but Dr. Burney was seized with such dread of another failure,
that, to appease him, his daughter and her husband consented to its
being withdrawn. The compliance cost some effort: Fanny complained that
she was treated as if she ‘had been guilty of a crime, in doing what she
had all her life been urged to, and all her life intended—writing a
comedy.’ ‘The combinations,’ she added, ‘for another long work did not
occur to me: incidents and effects for a drama did.’

This was only a transient disappointment. In the first days of 1800 came
a lasting sorrow, in the loss of Mrs. Phillips, who, since the autumn of
1796, had been living with her husband in Ireland, and who died
immediately after landing in England on her way to visit her
father.[122] But, except by this grief, the peace of Camilla Cottage was
never interrupted so long as the husband and wife remained together. In
her old age, Madame d’Arblay looked back to the first eight years of her
married life as to a period of unruffled happiness.

Then occurred a crisis. The d’Arblays had borne poverty cheerfully, even
joyfully, so long as any stretch of economy would enable them to keep
within their income. The cost of living and the burden of taxation had
begun to increase almost from the day of their marriage. One of the
motives for bringing out ‘Camilla’ was the rise of prices, which had
doubled within the preceding eighteen months. Hardly was Camilla Cottage
occupied, when an addition to the window-tax compelled the owners to
block up four of their new windows. The expense of building so much
exceeded calculation that, after all bills were settled, the balance
remaining from the foundress’s three thousand guineas produced only a
few pounds of annual interest. In the spring of 1800, we read that the
gardener has planted potatoes on every spot where they can grow, on
account of the dreadful price of provisions. Towards the close of 1801,
it is admitted that for some time previously they had been encroaching
on their little capital, which was then nearly exhausted. As soon,
therefore, as the preliminaries of peace were signed, M. d’Arblay
determined to remove his family to France, hoping to recover something
from the wreck of his fortune, and to obtain from the First Consul some
allowance for half-pay as a retired officer. Crossing the Channel alone,
in the first instance, the General involved himself in a double
difficulty: he failed with the French Government by stipulating that he
should not be required to serve against his wife’s country, while he had
cut off his retreat by pledging himself at the English Alien Office not
to return within a year. In this dilemma, he wrote to his wife to join
him in Paris with their child. Madame d’Arblay obeyed the summons,
amidst the anxious forebodings of her father, but with the full approval
of the Queen, who granted her a farewell audience, admitting that she
was bound to follow her husband.

Dr. Burney’s fears were more than justified by the event. His daughter
left Dover a few days after the treaty was signed at Amiens. When she
reached Paris, she found the city rejoicing at the conclusion of the
war, yet worshipping Bonaparte, whose temper and attitude showed that
the peace could not last. A reception by the First Consul, followed by a
review, both of which Madame d’Arblay witnessed from an ante-chamber in
the Tuileries, afforded striking evidence of the military spirit which
animated everything:

  “The scene, with regard to all that was present, was splendidly gay
  and highly animating. The room was full, but not crowded, with
  officers of rank in sumptuous rather than rich uniforms, and
  exhibiting a martial air that became their attire, which, however,
  generally speaking, was too gorgeous to be noble.

  “Our window was that next to the consular apartment, in which
  Bonaparte was holding a levée, and it was close to the steps ascending
  to it; by which means we saw all the forms of the various exits and
  entrances, and had opportunity to examine every dress and every
  countenance that passed and repassed. This was highly amusing, I might
  say historic, where the past history and the present office were

  “Sundry footmen of the First Consul, in very fine liveries, were
  attending to bring or arrange chairs for whoever required them;
  various peace-officers, superbly begilt, paraded occasionally up and
  down the chamber, to keep the ladies to their windows and the
  gentlemen to their ranks, so as to preserve the passage or lane,
  through which the First Consul was to walk upon his entrance, clear
  and open; and several gentlemanlike-looking persons, whom in former
  times I should have supposed pages of the back-stairs, dressed in
  black, with gold chains hanging round their necks, and medallions
  pending from them, seemed to have the charge of the door itself,
  leading immediately to the audience chamber of the First Consul.

  “But what was most prominent in commanding notice, was the array of
  the aides-de-camp of Bonaparte, which was so almost furiously
  striking, that all other vestments, even the most gaudy, appeared
  suddenly under a gloomy cloud when contrasted with its brightness....

  “The last object for whom the way was cleared was the Second Consul,
  Cambacérès, who advanced with a stately and solemn pace, slow,
  regular, and consequential; dressed richly in scarlet and gold, and
  never looking to the right or left, but wearing a mien of fixed
  gravity and importance. He had several persons in his suite, who, I
  think, but am not sure, were ministers of state.

  “At length the two human hedges were finally formed, the door of the
  audience chamber was thrown wide open with a commanding crash, and a
  vivacious officer—sentinel—or I know not what, nimbly descended the
  three steps into our apartment, and placing himself at the side of the
  door, with one hand spread as high as possible above his head, and the
  other extended horizontally, called out in a loud and authoritative
  voice, ‘Le Premier Consul!’

  “You will easily believe nothing more was necessary to obtain
  attention; not a soul either spoke or stirred as he and his suite
  passed along, which was so quickly that, had I not been placed so near
  the door, and had not all about me facilitated my standing foremost,
  and being least crowd-obstructed, I could hardly have seen him. As it
  was, I had a view so near, though so brief, of his face, as to be very
  much struck by it. It is of a deeply impressive cast, pale even to
  sallowness, while not only in the eye, but in every feature—care,
  thought, melancholy, and meditation are strongly marked, with so much
  of character, nay, genius, and so penetrating a seriousness, or rather
  sadness, as powerfully to sink into an observer’s mind....

  “The review I shall attempt no description of. I have no knowledge of
  the subject, and no fondness for its object. It was far more superb
  than anything I had ever beheld; but while all the pomp and
  circumstance of war animated others, it only saddened me; and all of
  past reflection, all of future dread, made the whole grandeur of the
  martial scene, and all the delusive seduction of martial music, fill
  my eyes frequently with tears, but not regale my poor muscles with one
  single smile.

  “Bonaparte, mounting a beautiful and spirited white horse, closely
  encircled by his glittering aides-de-camp, and accompanied by his
  generals, rode round the ranks, holding his bridle indifferently in
  either hand, and seeming utterly careless of the prancing, rearing, or
  other freaks of his horse, insomuch as to strike some who were near me
  with a notion of his being a bad horseman.”

Having introduced his wife to old friends in Paris, and paid a visit
with her to his relations at Joigny, the General settled his family in a
small house at Passy. Instead of being seen at Chelsea again within
eighteen months, as her father had been led to expect, she was detained
in France more than ten years. From the moment when Lord Whitworth
quitted Paris in May, 1803, her opportunities of communicating with
England were few and far between. All remittances thence, including her
annuity, ended with the peace. The claims to property on which her
husband had built proved delusive. Apparently they would have been
without means of any kind, but that, just as war was declared, the
influence of General Lauriston procured for his old comrade the
_retraite_, or retiring allowance, for which the latter had been
petitioning. Yet this only amounted to £62 10s. yearly, so that the
luckless pair would have been far better off in their cottage at West
Humble. Moreover, the receipt of half-pay made it impossible for them to
risk any attempt at escape while the war continued. At length, in 1805,
M. d’Arblay obtained employment in the Civil Department of the Office of
Public Buildings. He became, in fact, a Government clerk, plodding daily
between his desk and a poorly-furnished home at suburban Passy. He seems
to have been eventually promoted to the rank of _sous-chef_ in his

We learn, however, from the scanty notices belonging to this period,
that the Chevalier was treated with consideration by the heads of his
office, and that he and Madame kept their footing in Parisian society.
‘The society in which I mix,’ writes the lady, ‘when I can prevail with
myself to quit my yet dearer fireside, is all that can be wished,
whether for wit, wisdom, intelligence, gaiety, or politeness.’ She would
resume, she adds, her old descriptions if she could only write more
frequently, or with more security that she was not writing to the winds
and the waves. Her worst distress was the rarity with which letters
could be despatched, or travel either way, with anything like safety. At
another time she tells her father: ‘I have never heard whether the last
six letters I have written have as yet been received. Two of them were
antiques that had waited three or four years some opportunity ... the
two last were to reach you through a voyage by America.’ The very letter
in which this is said lost its chance of being sent, and was not
finished till a year later. Dr. Burney, in his fear of a miscarriage,
finally gave up writing, and charged his family and friends to follow
his example. Fanny had nothing to regret in her husband, except his
being overworked and in poor health: her heart shrank from leaving him;
yet her longing for England increased from year to year. Her visionary
castles, she said, were not in the air, but on the sea.

In 1810 she had prepared everything for flight, when fresh rigours of
the police obliged her to relinquish her design. In 1811 she had a
dangerous illness, and was operated upon by the famous surgeon, Baron de
Larrey, for a supposed cancer. In the summer of 1812, when Napoleon had
set out on his Russian campaign, she obtained a passport for America,
took ship with her son at Dunkirk, and landed at Deal. During the
interval between her first and second attempts at crossing, all
correspondence with England was prohibited on pain of death. One letter
alone reached her, announcing in brief terms the death of the Princess
Amelia, the renewed and hopeless derangement of the King, and the death
of Mr. Locke.


Footnote 112:

  Among other names, we find, besides those already mentioned, the
  Marquise de la Châtre, M. de Jaucourt, M. Sicard, the Princesse
  d’Hénin, De Lally Tollendal, Dumont.

Footnote 113:

    A French inventor whom Fanny had met at Streatham.

Footnote 114:

  How strong this prejudice continued to be was shown not long
  afterwards in a notable instance. Jane Austen’s father offered her
  ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to Cadell on November 1, 1797; the proposal was
  rejected by return of post, without an inspection of the manuscript,
  though Mr. Austen was willing to bear the risk of the publication.

Footnote 115:

  Author of the ‘Canterbury Tales.’

Footnote 116:

  Dr. Manners Sutton, then also Dean of Windsor, and afterwards
  Archbishop of Canterbury.

Footnote 117:

  Lord Orford to Miss Berry, Aug. 16, 1796.

Footnote 118:

  In ‘Northanger Abbey,’ which, though written in 1798, was not prepared
  for the press till 1803.

Footnote 119:

  Diary, iv. 3.

Footnote 120:

  Forby’s ‘Vocabulary of East Anglia,’ p. 330.

Footnote 121:

  According to her biographer, the manager had promised her £400 for the
  right of representation.

Footnote 122:

  Her death took place on January 6, 1800; she was buried in Neston
  churchyard, where Dr. Burney placed an epitaph to her memory.


                             CHAPTER XIII.

Madame d’Arblay’s Plans for her Son—Landing in England—Arrival at
  Chelsea—Saddening Change in Dr. Burney—Alexander d’Arblay at
  Cambridge—Publication of the ‘Wanderer’—Death of Dr. Burney—Madame
  d’Arblay presented to Louis XVIII.—M. d’Arblay appointed to the Corps
  de Gardes du Roi—Arrives in England and Carries Madame back to France—
  Madame d’Arblay presented to the Duchess d’Angoulême—The Hundred Days—
  Panic at Brussels—M. d’Arblay invalided—Settles in England—His Death—
  Remaining Days of Madame d’Arblay—Visit from Sir Walter Scott—The
  Memoirs of Dr. Burney—Tributes to their Value—Death of Alexander
  d’Arblay—Death of Madame d’Arblay—Conclusion.

Madame d’Arblay had other reasons for wishing to return to England
besides the mere desire to see her father and kindred. The longer her
only child remained in France, the greater risk he ran of being caught
by the conscription, which continually increased its demands. The young
Alexander was now of an age to be prepared for a profession, and it
cannot be doubted that his mother was anxious to make provision for this
purpose. Before leaving Paris, she had begun a treaty in London for the
publication of her fourth story. Through what channel this was done we
do not learn, but as early as December, 1811, Lord Byron[123] had heard
that a thousand guineas were being asked for a new novel by Madame
d’Arblay. She brought the manuscript over with her in a half-finished

The travellers did not escape the perils of the time, though happily
they were taken prisoners by their own countrymen. They and several
others had engaged berths on board an American vessel, the astute
captain of which delayed his departure so long, in order to obtain more
passengers, that when at length he entered British waters, he found
himself a prize to the coastguard, news having just arrived that the
United States had declared war against England.

It was the middle of August when mother and son found themselves again
on English ground. ‘I can hardly believe it,’ writes the former to her
sister Charlotte, now Mrs. Broome; ‘I look around me in constant inquiry
and doubt; I speak French to every soul, and I whisper still if I utter
a word that breathes private opinion.’ She goes on to describe her
meeting with her father: ‘I found him in his library by himself—but, oh!
my dearest, very much altered indeed—weak, weak and changed—his head
almost always hanging down, and his hearing most cruelly impaired. I was
terribly affected, but most grateful to God for my arrival.’ During the
separation, Dr. Burney had not been unfortunate until the infirmities of
age overcame him: the pension which he ought to have received from Mr.
Pitt had been procured for him by Mr. Fox. He had been happily employed
in writing for Rees’s Encyclopædia; had received flattering notice from
the Prince of Wales; had heard his Royal Highness quote Homer in Greek
and imitate Dr. Parr’s lisp, and talked familiarly with him at the
opera; had been a courted guest in many great houses; and had enjoyed
the meetings of the Club till his sight and hearing both began to fail.
When he could no longer go abroad, he spent most of his time in reading
in his bedroom. Madame d’Arblay employed herself during this visit to
England in nursing her father in his last days, in settling her son at
Cambridge, and in bringing out her new book.

Having obtained the Tancred scholarship, Alexander d’Arblay commenced
residence at Christ’s College, Cambridge, in October, 1813. He
eventually graduated as tenth Wrangler, and became Fellow of his
college. ‘But,’ says Macaulay, who had mixed with his fellow-students,
‘his reputation at the University was higher than might be inferred from
his success in academical contests. His French education had not fitted
him for the examinations of the Senate House;[124] but in pure
mathematics we have been assured by some of his competitors that he had
very few equals.’

‘The Wanderer; or, Female Difficulties’ appeared in the beginning of
1814. Notwithstanding the falling-off which had been observed in
‘Camilla,’ the whole edition of the new work was bespoken before it was
published. In six months, 3,600 copies were sold at two guineas a copy.
But it may be doubted whether the most conscientious reader persevered
to the end of the fifth volume. Ten years of exile had destroyed all
trace of the qualities which made ‘Evelina’ popular.

Dr. Burney lived to his eighty-eighth birthday, and died at Chelsea on
the 12th of April, 1814, in the presence of his recovered daughter, who
had tended his last hours. A tablet to his memory, bearing an
inscription from her pen, was placed in Westminster Abbey.

A few days after his death, Madame d’Arblay was presented to Louis
XVIII. By desire of Queen Charlotte, she attended a reception held by
the restored King in London on the day preceding his departure for
France. Her sovereign—for it must be remembered that she was now a
French subject—paid her the most courteous attention. Addressing her ‘in
very pretty English,’ he told her that he had known her long, for he had
been charmed with her books, and ‘read them very often.’ He bade her
farewell in French, with the words ‘Bonjour, Madame la Comtesse.’

M. d’Arblay had no further reason to complain of Bourbon ingratitude.
Within a few weeks he received a commission in the King’s Corps de
Gardes, and soon afterwards he was restored to his former rank of
Maréchal de Camp. He obtained leave of absence towards the close of the
year, and came to England for a few weeks; after which Madame d’Arblay
returned with him to Paris, leaving their son to pursue his studies at

In the early weeks of 1815, Madame d’Arblay was admitted to an audience
of the Duchesse d’Angoulême, the King’s niece; close on which followed
the return of Bonaparte from Elba, and the Hundred Days. Neither the
General nor his wife seems to have felt any alarm till the Corsican
reached Lyons. Then a passport was obtained for Madame, that she might
be able to leave France in case of need, while her husband remained
fixed to his post in the capital. In the night between the 19th and 20th
of March, after the King had left Paris, and not many hours before
Napoleon entered it, Madame d’Arblay took her departure, accompanied by
the Princesse d’Hénin. After many difficulties and misadventures, the
fugitives reached Brussels. In that city Madame d’Arblay was presently
joined by her husband, who had followed Louis XVIII. to Ghent with the
rest of the royal bodyguard. She remained in Brussels till the close of
the campaign, and for some weeks longer. At a later date she wrote from
memory a narrative of what befell her during this period. It includes a
description of the scenes that occurred in the Belgian capital while the
armies were facing each other within cannon-sound of its streets. The
account is graphic, though too diffuse to be quoted at length; evidently
it furnished Thackeray with much of the material for the famous chapters
in ‘Vanity Fair.’ We give some abridged extracts:

  “What a day of confusion and alarm did we all spend on the 17th!...
  That day, and June 18th, I passed in hearing the cannon! Good Heaven!
  what indescribable horror to be so near the field of slaughter! such I
  call it, for the preparation to the ear by the tremendous sound was
  soon followed by its fullest effect, in the view of the wounded....
  And hardly more afflicting was this disabled return from the battle,
  than the sight of the continually pouring forth victims that marched
  past my windows to meet similar destruction....

  “Accounts from the field of battle arrived hourly; sometimes directly
  from the Duke of Wellington to Lady Charlotte Greville, and to some
  other ladies who had near relations in the combat, and which, by their
  means, were circulated in Brussels; and in other times from such as
  conveyed those amongst the wounded Belgians, whose misfortunes were
  inflicted near enough to the skirts of the spots of action, to allow
  of their being dragged away by their hovering countrymen to the

  “During this period, I spent my whole time in seeking intelligence....

  “Ten times, at least, I crossed over to Madame d’Hénin, discussing
  plans and probabilities, and interchanging hopes and fears....

  “Madame d’Hénin and Madame de la Tour du Pin projected retreating to
  Gand, should the approach of the enemy be unchecked; to avail
  themselves of such protection as might be obtained from seeking it
  under the wing of Louis XVIII. M. de la Tour du Pin had, I believe,
  remained there with his Majesty.

  “M. de Lally and the Boyds inclined to Antwerp, where they might
  safely await the fate of Brussels, near enough for returning, should
  it weather the storm, yet within reach of vessels to waft them to the
  British shores should it be lost.

  “Should this last be the fatal termination, I, of course had agreed to
  join the party of the voyage, and resolved to secure my passport,
  that, while I waited to the last moment, I might yet be prepared for a
  hasty retreat.

  “I applied for a passport to Colonel Jones, to whom the Duke of
  Wellington had deputed the military command of Brussels in his
  absence; but he was unwilling to sanction an evacuation of Brussels,
  which he deemed premature. It was not, he said, for _us_, the English,
  to spread alarm, or prepare for an overthrow: he had not sent away his
  own wife or children, and he had no doubt but victory would repay his

  “I found upon again going my rounds for information, that though news
  was arriving incessantly from the scene of action, and with details
  always varying, Bonaparte was always advancing. All the people of
  Brussels lived in the streets. Doors seemed of no use, for they were
  never shut. The individuals, when they re-entered their houses, only
  resided at the windows: so that the whole population of the city
  seemed constantly in public view. Not only business as well as society
  was annihilated, but even every species of occupation. All of which we
  seemed capable was, to inquire or to relate, to speak or to hear. Yet
  no clamour, no wrangling, nor even debate was intermixed with either
  question or answer; curiosity, though incessant, was serene; the faces
  were all monotony, though the tidings were all variety. I could
  attribute this only to the length of time during which the inhabitants
  had been habituated to change both of masters and measures, and to
  their finding that, upon an average, they neither lost nor gained by
  such successive revolutions....

  “But what a day was the next—_June 18th_—the greatest, perhaps, in its
  results, in the annals of Great Britain!...

  “I was calmly reposing, when I was awakened by the sound of feet
  abruptly entering my drawing-room. I started, and had but just time to
  see by my watch that it was only six o’clock, when a rapping at my
  bedroom door ... made me slip on a long kind of domino, ... and demand
  what was the matter. “Open your door! there is not a moment to lose!”
  was the answer, in the voice of Miss Ann Boyd. I obeyed, in great
  alarm, and saw that pretty and pleasing young woman, with her mother,
  Mrs. Boyd.... They both eagerly told me that all their new hopes had
  been overthrown by better authenticated news, and that I must be with
  them by eight o’clock, to proceed to the wharf, and set sail for
  Antwerp, whence we must sail on for England, should the taking of
  Brussels by Bonaparte endanger Antwerp also....

  “My host and my maid carried my small package, and I arrived before
  eight in the Rue d’Assault. We set off for the wharf on foot, not a
  fiacre or chaise being procurable. Mr. and Mrs. Boyd, five or six of
  their family, a governess, and I believe some servants, with bearers
  of our baggage, made our party.... When we had got about a third part
  of the way, a heavy rumbling sound made us stop to listen. It was
  approaching nearer and nearer, and we soon found that we were followed
  by innumerable carriages, and a multitude of persons....

  “Arrived at the wharf, Mr. Boyd pointed out to us our barge, which
  seemed fully ready for departure; but the crowd, already come and
  still coming, so incommoded us, that Mr. Boyd desired we would enter a
  large inn, and wait till he could speak with the master, and arrange
  our luggage and places. We went, therefore, into a spacious room and
  ordered breakfast, when the room was entered by a body of military men
  of all sorts; but we were suffered to keep our ground till Mr. Boyd
  came to inform us that we must all decamp!...

  “He conducted us not to the barge, not to the wharf, but to the road
  back to Brussels; telling us, in an accent of depression, that he
  feared all was lost—that Bonaparte was advancing—that his point was
  decidedly Brussels—and that the Duke of Wellington had sent orders
  that all the magazines, the artillery, and the warlike stores of every
  description, and all the wounded, the maimed, and the sick, should be
  immediately removed to Antwerp. For this purpose he had issued
  directions that every barge, every boat, should be seized for the use
  of the army; and that everything of value should be conveyed away, the
  hospitals emptied, and Brussels evacuated.

  “If this intelligence filled us with the most fearful alarm, how much
  more affrighting still was the sound of cannon which next assailed our
  ears! The dread reverberation became louder and louder as we

  “Yet, strange to relate! on re-entering the city, all seemed quiet and
  tranquil as usual! and though it was in this imminent and immediate
  danger of being invested, and perhaps pillaged, I saw no outward mark
  of distress or disturbance, or even of hurry or curiosity.

  “Having re-lodged us in the Rue d’Assault, Mr. Boyd tried to find some
  land carriage for our removal. But not only every chaise had been
  taken, and every diligence secured; the cabriolets, the calèches, nay,
  the waggons and the carts, and every species of caravan, had been
  seized for military service. And, after the utmost efforts he could
  make, in every kind of way, he told us we must wait the chances of the
  day, for that there was no possibility of escape from Brussels, either
  by land or water....

  “I was seated at my bureau and writing, when a loud ‘hurrah!’ reached
  my ears from some distance, while the daughter of my host, a girl of
  about eighteen, gently opening my door, said the fortune of the day
  had suddenly turned, and that Bonaparte was taken prisoner.

  “At the same time the ‘hurrah!’ came nearer. I flew to the window; my
  host and hostess came also, crying, ‘_Bonaparte est pris! le voilà! le

  “I then saw, on a noble war-horse in full equipment, a general in the
  splendid uniform of France; but visibly disarmed, and, to all
  appearance, tied to his horse, or, at least, held on, so as to disable
  him from making any effort to gallop it off, and surrounded, preceded,
  and followed by a crew of roaring wretches, who seemed eager for the
  moment when he should be lodged where they had orders to conduct him,
  that they might unhorse, strip, pillage him, and divide the spoil.

  “His high, feathered, glittering helmet he had pressed down as low as
  he could on his forehead, and I could not discern his face; but I was
  instantly certain he was not Bonaparte, on finding the whole commotion
  produced by the rifling crew above-mentioned, which, though it might
  be guided, probably, by some subaltern officer, who might have the
  captive in charge, had left the field of battle at a moment when none
  other could be spared, as all the attendant throng were evidently
  amongst the refuse of the army followers.

  “I was afterwards informed that this unfortunate general was the Count

  “The delusion of victory vanished into a merely passing advantage, as
  I gathered from the earnest researches into which it led me; and evil
  only met all ensuing investigation; retreat and defeat were the words
  in every mouth around me! The Prussians, it was asserted, were
  completely vanquished on the 15th, and the English on the 16th, while
  on the day just passed, the 17th, a day of continual fighting and
  bloodshed, drawn battles on both sides left each party proclaiming
  what neither party could prove—success.

  “It was Sunday; but Church service was out of the question, though
  never were prayers more frequent, more fervent. Form, indeed, they
  could not have, nor union, while constantly expecting the enemy with
  fire and sword at the gates. Who could enter a place of worship, at
  the risk of making it a scene of slaughter? But who, also, in
  circumstances so awful, could require the exhortation of a priest, or
  the example of a congregation, to stimulate devotion? No! in those
  fearful exigencies, where, in the full vigour of health, strength, and
  life’s freshest resources, we seem destined to abruptly quit this
  mortal coil, we need no spur—all is spontaneous; and the soul is

  “Not above a quarter of an hour had I been restored to my sole
  occupation of solace, before I was again interrupted and startled; but
  not as on the preceding occasion by riotous shouts; the sound was a
  howl, violent, loud, affrighting, and issuing from many voices. I ran
  to the window, and saw the _Marché aux Bois_ suddenly filling with a
  populace, pouring in from all its avenues, and hurrying on rapidly,
  and yet as if unconscious in what direction; while women with children
  in their arms, or clinging to their clothes, ran screaming out of
  doors; and cries, though not a word was ejaculated, filled the air,
  and from every house, I saw windows closing, and shutters fastening;
  all this, though long in writing, was presented to my eyes in a single
  moment, and was followed in another by a burst into my apartment, to
  announce that _the French were come_!

  “I know not even who made this declaration; my head was out of the
  window, and the person who made it scarcely entered the room and was

  “How terrific was this moment! My perilous situation urged me to
  instant flight; and, without waiting to speak to the people of the
  house, I crammed my papers and money into a basket, and throwing on a
  shawl and bonnet, I flew downstairs and out of doors.

  “My intention was to go to the Boyds, to partake, as I had engaged,
  their fate; but the crowd were all issuing from the way I must have
  turned to have gained the Rue d’Assault, and I thought, therefore, I
  might be safer with Madame de Maurville, who, also, not being English,
  might be less obnoxious to the Bonapartists....

  “What a dreadful day did I pass! dreadful in the midst of its glory!
  for it was not during those operations that sent details partially to
  our ears that we could judge of the positive state of affairs, or
  build upon any permanency of success. Yet here I soon recovered from
  all alarm for personal safety, and lost the horrible apprehension of
  being in the midst of a city that was taken, sword in hand, by an

  “The _alerte_ which had produced this effect, I afterwards learnt,
  though not till the next day, was utterly false; but whether it had
  been produced by mistake or by deceit I never knew. The French,
  indeed, were coming; but not triumphantly; they were prisoners,
  surprised and taken suddenly, and brought in, being disarmed, by an
  escort; and, as they were numerous, and their French uniform was
  discernible from afar, the almost universal belief at Brussels that
  Bonaparte was invincible, might perhaps, without any intended
  deception, have raised the report that they were advancing as

  “I attempt no description of this day, the grandeur of which was
  unknown, or unbelieved, in Brussels till it had taken its flight, and
  could only be named as time past.”

The writer’s pleasure at the success of the Allies was saddened by an
accident which happened to General d’Arblay, who, while employed in
raising a force of refugees at Trèves, had received a severe wound in
the calf of his leg from the kick of a restive horse. This misfortune
impaired still further a constitution already weakened. Being for the
time disabled for service, and having passed his sixtieth year, the
General found himself placed on the retired list, and obtained leave to
settle with his wife in England. When sent on a mission to Blucher, he
had been honoured by his master with the title of Comte, which, as being
conferred only _par une sorte d’usage de l’ancien régime_, and being
neither established by patent, nor connected with the ownership of an
estate, he never used after the occasion on which it was given. He died
at Bath on May 3, 1818.

Little remains to be told of the life of Madame d’Arblay. During her
residence at Bath she renewed her acquaintance with Mrs. Piozzi. We have
a long and entertaining account from her pen of an escape from drowning
which she met with while staying at Ilfracombe. But with this exception,
her last diaries and letters contain little of interest. Soon after the
death of her husband she removed to No. 11, Bolton Street, Piccadilly.
Her latter days she spent chiefly in retirement, seeing few persons but
her own relations, and a small circle of established friends. Among the
latter were Mrs. Locke and the poet Rogers, with the latter of whom she
had made acquaintance on her first return from France. She was
delighted, however, by a visit from Sir Walter Scott, who was brought to
her by Rogers. Sir Walter, in his Diary for November 18, 1826, thus
records the interview: “Introduced to Madame d’Arblay, the celebrated
authoress of ‘Evelina’ and ‘Cecilia,’ an elderly lady with no remains of
personal beauty, but with a simple and gentle manner, and pleasing
expression of countenance, and apparently quick feelings. She told me
she had wished to see two persons—myself, of course, being one, the
other George Canning. This was really a compliment to be pleased with—a
nice little handsome pat of butter made up by a neat-handed Phillis of a
dairy-maid, instead of the grease fit only for cart-wheels which one is
dosed with by the pound. I trust I shall see this lady again.”

From the year 1828 to 1832, she occupied herself in compiling the
Memoirs of Dr. Burney. This book, published in her eightieth year, has
all the faults of her later style, in their most aggravated form. But
her friend Bishop Jebb, while gently hinting at these defects, could
honestly congratulate her on the merit of her work. “Much as we already
know of the last age, you have brought many scenes of it, not less
animated than new, graphically before our eyes; whilst I now seem
familiar with many departed worthies, who were not before known to me,
even so much as by name.” Southey also wrote to her son: “‘Evelina’ did
not give me more pleasure, when I was a schoolboy, than these Memoirs
have given me now; and this is saying a great deal. Except Boswell’s,
there is no other work in our language which carries us into such
society, and makes us fancy that we are acquainted with the persons to
whom we are there introduced.”

In January, 1837, she lost the last prop of her old age. Alexander
d’Arblay, having taken Orders soon after his degree, became minister of
Ely Chapel in 1836, and was about to marry, when he was carried off by
an attack of influenza. His mother survived him nearly three years: she
had a severe illness, attended by spectral illusions, in November, 1839;
and died in London on January 6, 1840—a day which she had observed from
the beginning of the century in memory of the death of her sister
Susanna. She was buried at Walcot, near Bath, by the side of her husband
and their only child.

Except for the production of the “Memoirs,” the last quarter of a
century in Madame d’Arblay’s life was barren both of incident and
employment. The details of her experience during the preceding fifteen
years could not fail to interest us, if we had them related as she would
have told them in her prime. Especially, we should like to know
something more about that long detention in France, when chafing under
police restrictions, and fretting for news from home, her heart vibrated
to the continual echoes of cannon announcing Napoleon’s victories. But
Fanny married, and growing elderly, was quite a different person from
the Fanny of St. Martin’s Street and Chesington, of Streatham and Bath,
of Windsor and Kew. Her Diary proper came to a final stop with the death
of Mrs. Phillips in 1800. She will always be remembered as Frances
Burney of the eighteenth century. Deriving her inspiration in part from
Richardson, she heads the roll of those female novelists whose works
form a considerable part of English literature. The purity of her
writings first made the circulating library respectable. “We owe to
her,” says Macaulay very justly, “not only ‘Evelina,’ ‘Cecilia,’ and
‘Camilla,’ but ‘Mansfield Park,’ and the ‘Absentee.’ Yet great as was
her influence on her successors,[125] it was exhausted before the
present century began. Indeed, it has been suggested, with some reason,
that the excessive sensibility of her heroines is answerable for a
reaction in Miss Edgeworth and Miss Austen; for the too great amount of
bright and cold good sense of the first; for the over-sobriety of
feeling of the second.[126] Fanny’s genius for expressing character in
dialogue, aided by touches of description, placed her among the first
memoir-writers of that journalizing age. A little more power of
compression would have made her diaries equal to the best of Boswell’s

“The author herself,” says Mr. Leslie Stephen, “with her insatiable
delight in compliments—certainly such as might well turn her head—her
quick observation and lively garrulity, her effusion of sentiment rather
lively than deep, but never insincere, her vehement prejudices corrected
by flashes of humour, is always amusing.” We may assent to every word of
this sentence, and yet feel that it does its subject something less than
justice. We trust that our readers have found Fanny amusing; we trust
also that they have recognised in her the possession of some higher
qualities. If she was vain, her egotism was of the most innocent kind.
It was more harmless than Goldsmith’s, for we cannot recall in her
utterances a single envious or jealous remark. Of how many
self-conscious authors can the like be said? The simple love of praise
which led her to entertain her acquaintance with what was said about
herself, has assisted to render her interesting to a wider circle. “Vain
glory,” says Bacon quaintly, “helpeth to perpetuate a man’s memory: like
unto varnish that makes ceilings not only shine, but last.” If she had
strong prejudices, they were free from every taint of personal
malevolence. Her dislike of the Opposition resembled Johnson’s professed
hatred of the Scotch, at which the doctor himself used to laugh. She
goes to the trial of Hastings, full of zeal for his cause, and spends
her time there chiefly in conversing with his prosecutors. And however
prejudiced on some points, she was far from narrow-minded on many
matters of controversy. Though brought up a strict Protestant, she
married a Roman Catholic. Though to the end of her days an attached
daughter of the English Church, she expresses unqualified esteem for the
piety of those very pronounced dissenters, Mr. and Mrs. Barbauld. The
sympathy between herself and her own family was at all times perfect.
There were no rivalries among them. “I am sure,” she wrote modestly in
1800, “my dear father will not think I mean to parallel our works.” She
was extremely pleased when Queen Charlotte declared a tale published by
her half-sister Sarah to be “very pretty.” Her faithfulness to duty and
her friends was celebrated by her royal mistress in the saying that Miss
Burney was “true as gold.” When she had cast in her lot with her
Chevalier, no isolation, no privation, no anxiety for the future could
make her repine. “I never forget,” she wrote in her poverty, “Dr.
Johnson’s words. When somebody said that a certain person had no turn
for economy, he answered, ‘Sir, you might as well say that he has no
turn for honesty.’“ Whatever cavils have been raised by Croker and one
or two like-minded detractors, no artifice or indirect dealing can be
laid to her charge, even in literary matters, in regard to which such
manœuvres are too often deemed excusable. We are not holding her up
as a pattern of elevated or extraordinary virtue. She was simply the
best representative of a worthy and amiable family who had been trained
in the school of Samuel Johnson. That type of character has passed away.
The rugged old dictator’s political creed is unintelligible to the
present age; his devotion is taken for superstition or formalism; his
canons of criticism are obsolete. His disciples felt nothing of what was
stirring in the air. They were but little accessible to fresh ideas. The
cause of popular freedom, the Evangelical movement in religion, the
romantic spirit in poetry appealed to them with the smallest effect.
They were zealous for authority; they were not in the least
introspective; when they wanted a line or two of verse, they nearly
always went to Pope for it. The speculations, the problems of the modern
world were all unknown to them. They were far less inclined to embrace
new dogmas of faith or agnosticism than to observe old rules of action.
Yet when we read the annals of the Burneys—the accomplished, the genial,
self-respecting, conscientious, pious Burneys—may we not be pardoned for
thinking that there was a good deal, after all, in those antiquated
Johnsonian principles?

                                THE END.




Footnote 123:

  Moore’s ‘Life of Byron,’ Letters 78, 80.

Footnote 124:

  He had studied mathematics in Paris according to the analytical method
  instead of the geometrical, which was at that time exclusively taught
  at Cambridge.

Footnote 125:

  Miss Austen took the title of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ from some words on
  the last page of ‘Cecilia.’

Footnote 126:

  Introduction to ‘Evelina’ by Annie Raine Ellis.


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                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original,
or, if in a footnote, to the original page, the resequenced note number
and the line with it.

  19.7     “How you remind me of my father![’”/”’]        Transposed.

  33.34    being hooted at[.]                             Added.

  70.31    as well acquainted with them as herself[.]     Added.

  78.6     her Smiths and her Branghtons![”/’]            Replaced.

  98.5     “[‘]Oh, sir!’ cried I;                         Inserted.

  99.2     to confound these outpouring[s]                Added.

  106.23   [‘/“]Let him be tormented,                     Replaced.

  106.25   ‘Evelina’![”]                                  Added.

  115.23   though far inferior[.]                         Added.

  123.29   in Fanny’s [l]iterary career.                  Restored.

  124.54.5 died on the 30th of May 1840[.]                Added.

  129.22   a history of the Bristol milk-woman,[’]        Removed.

  131.12   have encouraged me.[’/”]                       Replaced.

  139.13   was only six miles from Chesington[,/.]        Replaced.

  168.12   [‘]There is no need,’                          Added.

  177.29   No, no; not come to that neither.[’]           Added.

  190.22   Immediately below the Great Chambe[r]lain’s    Inserted.

  221.1    I am extremely obliged to Mr. Digby indeed.[’] Added.

  211.24   “[‘]No, ma’am!’ was all I dared answer.        Inserted.

  231.26   ‘fine, lively, natural, independent            Added.

  242.23   [‘/“]I thanked him;                            Replaced.

  271.3    after seventy-three of accusation.[’/”]        Replaced.

  272.10   [‘]for it is kind,                             Added.

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