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Dituclunrh Cnllrrttim.
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Correspondence between Miss Burney and Mrs. Thrale Good
Things Mr. Crisp The War Admiral Byron Origin of
our Affections Merlin His Mill to Grind Old Ladies Young

Dr. Johnson Bartolozzi An Owhyhee Dress Conver-
sazione Characters Mrs. Montagu Dinner at Mrs. Thrale's

Lord Sheffield Lord John Clinton Two Beauties and a
Fright Mrs. Carter Webber's South Sea Drawings Curious
Fans The Duchess of Devonshire Sir Joshua Reynolds
A Dinner Party A Character Sudden Death of Mr. Thrale
Correspondence between Mr. Crisp and Miss Burney - The
Three Warnings - - Diary Resumed Visitors A Dinner
Party Sale of Mr. Thrale's Brewery Mr. Barclay, the
Rich Quaker Dr. Johnson Newspaper Scandal A Poor
Artist An Odd Adventure Anecdote of Dr. Johnson Sit-
ting for One's Portrait - -Visit to Streatham A Subject for
Harry Bunbury- The Wits at War Johnson's "Life of Lord
Lyttelton" Singular Scene Johnson in a Savage Fit A
Peace-maker Merlin, the Mechanician.

Mrs. Thrale to Miss F. .Burney.

Streatham, Saturday.
My Dear Miss Burney,

And so here comes your sweet letter. And so t
pleased Mr, Crisp, did I ? and yet he never heard, it
seems, the only good things I said, which were very
earnest, and very honest, and very pressing invitations



to him, to see Streatbam nearer than through the
telescope. Now, that he did not hear all this was your
fault, mademoiselle ; for you told me that Mr. Crisp
was old, and Mr. Crisp was infirm ; and, if I had
found those things so, I should have spoken louder,
and concluded him to he deaf: but, finding him very
amiable, and very elegant, and very polite to me, and
very unlike an old man, I never thought about his
being deaf; and, perhaps, was a little coquettish too,
in my manner of making the invitation. I now repeat
it, however, and give it under my hand, that I should
consider such a visit as a very, very great honour, and
so would Mr. Thrale.

And now for dismal !

I have been seriously ill ever since I saw you. Mrs.
Burney has been to me a kind and useful friend,
has suffered me to keep her here all this time is
here still would not go to Sir Joshua's, though she
was asked, because I could not ; and has been as
obliging, and as attentive, and as good to me as possible.
Dick is happy, and rides out with my master, and his
mamma and I look at them out of the dressing-room
window. So much for self.

In the midst of my own misery I felt for my dear
Mrs. Byron's ; but Chamier has relieved that anxiety
by assurances that the Admiral behaved quite unexcep-
tionably, and that, as to honour in the West Indies, all
goes well. The Grenadas are a heavy loss indeed, nor
is it supposed possible for Byron to protect Barbadoes
and Antigua. Barrington has acted a noble part; he
and Count d'Estaing remind one of the heroic con-
tentions of distant times. The Lvon, on our side,


commanded by a Welshman, and the Languedoc, on
the side of the French, fought with surprising fury, and
lost a great number of men ; it was a glorious day,
though on our side unfortunate.

D'Orvilliers has left our Channel after only cutting
a few ships out of Torbay, and chasing Sir Charles to


Spithead. Many suppose the home campaign quite
over for this year.


I have had very kind letters from Dr. Delap. I
love the Sussex people somehow, and they are a mighty
silly race too. But 'tis never for their wisdom that one
loves the wisest, or for their wit that one loves the
wittiest ; 'tis for henevolence, and virtue, and honest
fondness, one loves people ; the other qualities make
one proud of loving them too.

Dear, sweet, kind Barney, adieu ; whether sick or
sorry, ever yours, H. L. T.

Mrs. Thrale to Miss F. Burney.

Streatham, Thursday, 4th January.

Don't I pick up franks prettily ? I sent a hundred
miles for this, and the churl enclosed but one "cer-
tain that Miss Barney could not live long enough
away from me to need two." Ah, cruel Miss Burney !
she will never come again, I think.

Well ! but I did see Philips written in that young
man's honest face, though nobody pronounced the
word; and I boldly bid him " Good morrow, Cap-
tain" at the door, trusting to my own instinct when I
came away. Your sweet father, however, this day
trusted me with the whole secret, and from my heart
do 1. wish every comfort and joy from the match.

Tis now high time to tell you that the pictures are
come home, all but mine, which my master don't like.
He has ordered your father to sit to-morrow, in his
peremptory way ; and I shall have the dear Doctor
every morning at breakfast. I took ridiculous pains
to tutor him to-day, and to insist, in my peremptory
way, on his forbearing to write or read late this evening,
that my picture might not have blood-shot eyes.

Merlin has been here to tune the fortepianos. He
told Mrs. Davenant and me that he had thoughts of
inventing a particular mill to grind old ladies young,


as lie was so prodigiously fond of their company. I
suppose he thought we should bring grist. Was that
the way to put people in tune? I asked him.

Doctor Burney says your letters and mine are alike,
and that it comes by writing so incessantly to each
other. I feel proud and pleased, and find 1 shall slip
pretty readily into the Susannuccia's place, when she
goes to settle on her 700/. a-year ; of which God give
her joy seven hundred times over, dear creature!
never knew how it was to love an incognita but Susan
Burney : my personal acquaintance with her is actually
nothing is it? and yet we always seem to understand
one another. H. L. T.

Mrs. Thrale to Miss. F. Burney.

Streatham, Thursday, llth.

I never was so glad of a letter from you before : the
dear Doctor had been in the room just half-an-hour,
and had frighted me with an account of your fever.
Thank God there is no harm come to my sweet little
friend ; her spirits and her affection are as strong as
ever, for all Dr. Johnson, who says nobody loves
each other much when they have been parted long.
How well do you know him, and me, and all of us,
and talk of my penetration !

Your father sits for his picture in the Doctor of
music's gown ; and Bartolozzi makes an enti'raving
from it to place at the head of the book. Sir Joshua
delights in the portrait, and says 'twill be the best
among them. I hope it will ; and by this time, per-
haps, you may have begun thinking of the miniature too ;
but it is not touched yet, I assure you. Sweet Susan-
nuccia! I will slide into her place ; I shall get more of
your company, too, and more- -is there any more to
be had?- -of your confidence. Yes, yes, there is a
little, to be sure ; but clear Mrs. Thrale shall have it
all now. Oh, 'tis an excellent match! and he has


700/. a-year that is, lie will have: it is entailed, and

I send this by your father, who will put it in the
post; not a frank to-day for love or money. I did
not intend to have written so soon. He and I shall
meet at St. James's this day se'nnight. The Owhyliee*
is to be trimmed with grebeskins and gold to the tune
of 65/. the trimming only. What would I give to
shew it to you!- -or shew you any thing, for that

matter, that would skew how affectionately I am yours !

* ^ * ^ 4

Dr. Burney says you carry bird-lime in your brains,
for every thing that lights there sticks. I think you
carry it in your heart, and that mine sticks very close
to it. So adieu ! H, L. T.

Mrs. Thrale to Miss Burney.

Grosvenor Square, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1781.

This moment Dick Burney tells me how ill you are.
My dear, how shall I keep from stepping into a post-
chaise, and sousing through Gascoyne Lane to look
after you ? Complicated as my engagements are, be-
tween business and flash, I shall certainly serve you
so, if you do not make haste and be well.

Yesterday I had a conversazione. Mrs. Montagu
was brilliant in diamonds, solid in judgment, critical
in talk. Sophy smiled, Piozzi sung, Pepys panted with
admiration, Johnson was good-humoured, Lord John
Clinton attentive, Dr. Bowdler lame, and my master
not asleep. Mrs. Ord looked elegant, Lady Rothes
dainty, Mrs. Davenant dapper, and Sir Philip's curls
were all blown about by the wind. Mrs. Byron re-
joices that her Admiral and 1 agree so well ; the way
to his heart is connoisseurship it seems, and for a

* Mrs. Thrale had a court dress woven at Spitalfields, from a
pattern of Owhyhee manufacture, brought thence by Captain


back-ground and contorno, who comes up to Mrs.
Thrale, you know.

Captain Fuller flashes away among us. How that
boy loves rough merriment! the people all seem to
keep out of his way for fear.

Aunt Cotton died firmly persuaded that Mrs. Dave-
nant was a natural, and that I wrote her letters for
her how odd !

Many people said she was the prettiest woman in
the room last night, and that is as odd ; Augusta
Byron, and Sophy Streatfield, and Mrs. Hinchliffe,
being present.

Mrs. Montagu talked to me about you for an hour
t'other day, and said she was amazed that so delicate
a girl could write so boisterous a book.

Loveliest Burney, be as well as ever you can, pray
do. When you are with me, I think I love you from
habit ; when you are from me, I fancy distance
endears you : be that as it may, your own father
can alone love you better, or wish you better, or
desire the sight of you more sincerely, than does
your H. L. T.

Dr. Johnson is very good and very clubbable, but
Sir R. Jebb is quite a scourge to me. Who now would
believe that I cannot make a friend of that man, but
am forced to fly to Dr. Pepys for comfort ? He is
so haughty, so impracticable a creature ; and yet I
esteem and honour him, though I cannot make him
feel any thing towards me but desire of downing, &c.

Miss Burney to Mrs. Thrale.

Chesington, February 8th, 1781.

This moment have two sweet and most kind letters
from my best-loved Mrs. Thrale made amends for no
little anxiety which her fancied silence had given me.
I know not what is now come to this post ; but there


is nothing I can bear with so little patience as being
tricked out of any of your letters. They do, indeed,
give me more delight than 1 can express ; they seem
to me the perfection of epistolary writing ; for, in Dr.
Johnson's phrase, all that is not kindness is wit, and
all that is not wit is kindness.

What you tell me of Mrs. Montagu and Mrs. Carter
gives me real concern ; it is a sort of general disgrace
to us ; but, as you say, it shall have nothing to do
with you and I. Mrs. Montagu, as we have often
agreed, is a character rather to respect than love, for
she has not that don d' aimer by which alone love can
be made fond or faithful ; and many as are the causes
by which respect may be lessened, there are very few
by which it can be afterwards restored to its first
dignity. But where there is real affection, the case is

exactly reversed ; few things can weaken, and every

. . ^

trifle can revive it.

Yet not for forty years, in this life at least, shall we
continue to love each other ; I am very sure I, for one,
shall never last half that time. If you saw but how
much the illness of a week has lowered and injured
me, considering in what perfect health I came hither,
you would be half astonished ; and that in spite of the
utmost care and attention from every part of this kind
family. I have just, with great difficulty, escaped a
relapse, from an unfortunate fresh cold with which I
am at this time struggling. Long last you, dearest
madam! I am sure in the whole world I know not

such another.


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," who first comfortably introduced
me to you ; an event which I may truly say opened a

* " Cecilia," which Miss Burney had been Ions: employed in
writing, and which made its appearance shortly afterwards.


new, and, I hope, an exhaustless source of happiness
to your most gratefully affectionate F. B.

Journal Resumed.
(Addressed to Mr. Crisp.)

MARCH 23o, 1781. I have very narrowly escaped a
return of the same vile and irksome fever which with
such difficulty has been conquered, and that all from
vexation. Last week I went to dinner in Grosvenor
Square. I ran up-stairs, as usual, into Mrs. Thrale's
dressing-room, and she there acquainted me that Mr.
Thrale had resolved upon going abroad : first to Spa,
next to Italy, and then whither his fancy led him !
that Dr. Johnson was to accompany them, but that,
as their journey was without limit either of time or
place, as Mr. Thrale's ill state of health and strange
state of mind would make it both melancholy and
alarming, she could not in conscience think of taking
me from my own friends and country without know-
ins; either whither, or for what length of time. She

O 7 O

would write to me, however, every post ; leave me the
keys of all she left of any value, and, in case of any evil
to herself, make me her executrix !

Oh, what words ! and what a scheme ! I was so
infinitely shocked, surprised, and grieved, that I was
forced to run away from her, and insist upon hearing
no more ; neither could I sufficiently recover even to
appear at dinner, as Dr. Johnson, Mr. Seward, and
Mr. Ingram, were of the party ; I was obliged, there-
fore, to shut myself up all the afternoon.

You will not, I am sure, wonder that I should be
utterly disconcerted and afflicted by a plan so wild in
itself, and so grievous to me. I was, indeed, hardly
able to support myself with any firmness all day; and
unfortunately, there was in the evening a great rout.
I was then obliged to appear, and obliged to tell every


body I was but half recovered from my late indis-

The party was very large, and the company very
brilliant. I was soon encircled by acquaintances, and
forced to seem as gay as my neighbours. My steady
companions were Miss Coussmaker, Augusta Byron,
Miss Ord, and Miss Thrale ; and the >S. S. never
quits me.

I had a long conversation with the new Lord Shef-
field ; and, as I had never seen him since he was
Colonel Holroyd, I was ridiculously enough embar-
rassed with his new title, blundering from my lord to
sir, and from sir to my lord. He gave me a long
account of his Coventry affairs, and of the commitment
of the sheriffs to Newgate. He is a spirited and
agreeable man, and, I doubt not, will make himself
conspicuous in the right way. Lady Sheffield was
also very civil; and, as she came second, I was better
prepared, and therefore gave her ladyship her title
with more readiness ; which was lucky enough, for I
believe she would much less have liked the omission.

Mrs. Thrale took much pains to point out her friend
Lord John Clinton to me, and me to him : he is
extremely ugly, but seems lively and amiable.

The greatest beauty in the room, except the S. S.,
was Mrs. Gwvnn, latelv Miss Horneck ; and the

V %l

greatest fright was Lord Sandys.

I have time for nothing more about this evening,
which, had not my mind been wholly and sadly occu-
pied by other matters, would have been very agreeable
to me.

The next day I again spent in Grosvenor Square,
where nothing new had passed about this cruel jour-
ney. I then met a very small party, consisting only
of Mrs. Price, who was a Miss Evelyn, Miss Benson,
Dr. Johnson, and Mrs. Carter.

The latter, as there were so few folks, talked a good
deal, and was far more sociable and easy than 1 had


yet seen her. Her talk, too, though all upon books
(for life and manners she is as ignorant of as a nun),
was very unaffected and good-humoured, and I liked
her exceedingly. Mrs. Price is a very sensible,
shrewd, lofty, and hard-headed woman. Miss Benson
not very unlike her.

TUESDAY. I passed the whole day at Sir Joshua
Reynolds's with Miss Palmer, who, in the morning,
took me to see some most beautiful fans, painted by
Poggi, from designs of Sir Joshua, Angelica, West,
and Cipriani, on leather; they are, indeed, more de-
lightful than can well be imagined : one was bespoke
by the Duchess of Devonshire, for a present to some
woman of rank in France, that was to cost 30Z.

We were accompanied by Mr. Eliot, the knight of
the shire for Cornwall, a most agreeable, lively, and
very clever man.

We then went to Mr. Webber's, to see his South
Sea drawings. Here we met Captain King, who chiefly
did the honours in shewing the curiosities and ex-
plaining them. He is one of the most natural, gay,
honest, and pleasant characters I ever met with. We
spent all the rest of the morning here, much to my
satisfaction. The drawings are extremely well worth
seeing ; they consist of views of the country of Ota-
heite, New Zealand, New Amsterdam, Kamschatka,
and parts of China ; and portraits of the inhabitants
done from the life.

When we returned to Leicester Fields we were
heartily welcomed by Sir Joshua. Mr. Eliot stayed
the whole day ; and no other company came but Mr.
Webber, who was invited to tea. Sir Joshua is fat
and well. He is preparing for the Exhibition a new
" Death of Dido;" portraits of the three beautiful Lady
Waldegraves, Horatia, Laura, and Maria, all in one
picture, and at work with the tambour ; a Thais, for
which a Miss Emily, a celebrated courtesan, sat, at
the desire of the Hon. Charles Greville ; and what


others I know not : but his room and gallery are both

THURSDAY. I spent the whole day again in Gros-
venor Square, where there was a very gay party to
dinner; Mr. Boswell, Dudley Long, Mr. Adair, Dr.

Delap, Mr. B , Dr. Johnson, and my father; and

much could I write of what passed, if it were possible

for me to get time. Mr. B was just as absurdly

pompous as at Brighton ; and, in the midst of dinner,
without any sort of introduction, or reason, or motive,
he called out aloud,

" Sweet are the slumbers of the charming; maid ! "


A laugh from all parties, as you may imagine, fol-
lowed this exclamation ; and he bore it with amazing-

"What's all this laugh for?" cried Dr. Johnson,
who had not heard the cause.

" Why, sir," answered Mrs. Thrale, when she was

able to speak, " Mr. B just now called out,

nobody knows why, ' Sweet are the slumbers of the
virtuous maid !'

*' No, no, not virtuous" cried Mr. Boswell, " he
said charming ; he thought that better!' 1

"Ay, sure, sir," cried Mr. B , unmoved; " for

why say virtuous ? can we doubt a fair female's
virtue? oh fie, oh fie! 'tis a superfluous epithet."

" But," cried Mrs. Thrale, " in the original it is
the virtuous man; why do you make it a maid of the
sudden, Mr. B ?''

" I was alarmed at first." cried Dr. Delap, " and
thought he had caught Miss Burney napping ; but
when I looked at her, and saw her awake, I was at a
loss, indeed, to find the reason of the change."

" Here, sir! my lad!" cried Mr. B- to the ser-
vant ; " why, my head's on fire ! What ! have you got
never a screen? Why, I shall be what you may call
a hot-headed fellow f 1 shall be a mere roti /'


In the afternoon we were joined by Mr. Crutchley,
Mr. Byron, and Mr. Selwin ; and then we had a
thousand private conferences and consultations con-
cerning the Spa journey.

I have been so often and so provokingly interrupted
in writing this, that I must now finish it by lumping
matters at once. Sir Richard Jebb and Dr. Pepys
have both been consulted concerning this going
abroad, and are both equally violent against it, as
they think it even unwarrantable, in such a state of
health as Mr. Thrale's ; and, therefore, it is settled
that a great meeting of his friends is to take place
before he actually prepares for the journey, and they
are to encircle him in a body, and endeavour, by re-
presentations and entreaties, to prevail with him to
give it up ; and I have little doubt myself but, amongst
us, we shall be able to succeed.

Miss F. Burney to Mrs. Thrale.*

Wednesday evening.

You bid me write to you, and so I will ; you bid
me pray for you, and so, indeed, I do, for the
restoration of your sweet peace of mind. I pray for
your resignation to this hard blow, for the continued
union and exertion of your virtues with your talents,
and for the happiest reward their exertion can meet
with, in the gratitude and prosperity of your children.
These are my prayers for my beloved Mrs. Thrale ;

* This letter was written in reply to a few words from Mrs.
Thrale, in which, alluding to her husband's sudden death, she hegs
Miss Burney to " write to me pray for me ! " The hurried note
from Mrs. Thrale is thus endorsed by Miss Burney: "Written
a few hours after the death of Mr. Thrale, which happened by a
sudden stroke of apoplexy, on the morning of a day on which half
the fashion of London had been invited to an intended assembly
at his house in Grosvenor Square."


but these are not my only ones; no, the unfailing
warmth of her kindness for myself I have rarely, for a
long time past, slept without first petitioning.

1 ran away without seeing you again when I found
you repented that sweet compliance with my request
which I had won from you. For the world would I
not have pursued you, had I first seen your pro-
hibition, nor could I endure to owe that consent to
teasing which I only solicited from tenderness. Still,
however, I think you had better have suffered me to
follow you ; I might have been of some use ; I hardly
could have been in your way. But I grieve now to
have forced you to an interview which 1 would have
spared myself as well as you, had I foreseen how little
it would have answered my purpose.

Yet though I cannot help feeling disappointed, I am
not surprised ; for in any case at all similar, I am sure
I should have the same eagerness for solitude.

I tell you nothing of how sincerely I sympathise in
your affliction ; yet I believe that Mr. Crutchley and
Dr. Johnson alone do so more earnestly; and I have
some melancholy comfort in flattering myself that,
allowing; for the difference of our characters, that true


regard which I felt was as truly returned. Nothing
but kindness did 1 ever meet with ; he ever loved to
have me, not merely with his family, but with him-
self; and gratefully shall I ever remember a thousand
kind expressions of esteem and good opinion, which are
now crowding upon my memory.

Ah, dearest madam! you had better have accepted
me ; I am sure, if unfit for you, I am at this time unfit
for every body. Adieu, and Heaven preserve my
heart's dearest friend ! Don't torment yourself to
write to me, nor will I even ask Queeny, though she is
good, and I believe would not deny me ; but what can
vou sav but that you are sad and comfortless ? and do

vf *t .

I not know that far too well '? I will write again to
you, and a thousand times again, for nothing am 1
more trnlv than vour F. B.


Miss F. Burney to Mrs. Thrale.

Saturday, April 6th.

I would I had some commission, some business,
some pretence for writing to my best-loved friend ; for
write I must, while I have the faintest hope my letters
will be received without aversion. Yet I have nothing
on earth to say, but how much I love and how truly I
am grieved for her. To you, dearest madam, I can offer
nothing by way of comfort or consolation, whatever I
might do to many others ; but what could I urge which
you have not a thousand times revolved in your own
mind ? Dr. Johnson alone could offer any thing new, or
of strength to deserve attention from Mrs. Thrale. The
rectitude and purity of your principles, both religious
and moral, I have often looked up to with reverence,
and I now no more doubt their firmness in this time of
trial than if I witnessed their operation. Queeny, too,

Online LibraryFanny BurneyDiary and letters of Madame d'Arblay (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 27)