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Miss Burney at Norbury Park—Execution of the French King—Madame de Sta?l 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of Madame d’Arblay’s Style—Camilla Cottage—Wedded Happiness—Madame d’Arblay’s Comedy of ‘Love and Fashion’ withdrawn—Death of Mrs.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 294quickened 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 Sta?l 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 Sta?l 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 Sta?l, 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] 295were all most agreeable; but one, perhaps the least dazzling of the whole constellation, proved more attractive than the rest:

“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 English.”

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 296stronger 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 Church.

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 297immediately 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 lord:

“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! 298M. 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 go?t 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.

299An 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 300detachment 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 301receive 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 302most 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 303it 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 304up 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] 305‘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’ 306at 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.

307In 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 308that 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. 309Towards 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 310that 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 known.

“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. 311He 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.

312“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 department.

313We 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 314son 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.


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