|The Diary of
Reviewed By Cheryl Bolen
There is perhaps no one better suited to chronicle the
Georgian-Regency age than one of its most celebrated personalties, Fanny
Burney (1752-1840). For as the daughter of a man of letters and as a
widely celebrated novelist herself, Fanny (named after her grandmother
Frances) knew everyone who was anyone in London. Dr. Johnson's last
letter was written to her. The Queen of England herself asked Fanny to
be one of her ladies-in-waiting. Miss Burney was living with the Royal
Family when King George III suffered his first significant battle with
madness. And Fanny was in Brussels during the Waterloo campaign.
Fanny was the third child born to Charles Burney, who was made a
doctor of music by the University of Oxford in 1769. He authored several
books, including a General History of Music, and was friends with
men of the stature of Garrick and Johnson.
Though she attended school only briefly at age 11 while her mother
was dying, Fanny began to write at an early age. She was extremely shy,
imparting her sage observations on people to the written page.
The diaries most often published of the nine volumes of diaries
and letters begins in 1778, when Fanny was 25. That was the year her
novel, Evelina, was published to wide and enthusiastic public
The diaries reviewed here were published in 1940 by J.M. Dent
& Sons Ltd of London and E.P. Dutton & Co., New York. This is
the only work which divides her diaries and letters into four parts. The
diaries had first been published in seven volumes two years after
Fanny's death by her niece, Charlotte Barrett, whose editorial
interruptions are included in the text reviewed for this article.
Though Fanny was aware that much of what she wrote would be
omitted, she gave directions that, "nothing should in any wise be
altered or added."
Considering, then, that her words have not been edited, she has a
remarkable facility for writing with depth, intelligence and grammatical
accuracy--not to mention writer's cramp! Passages on a single day's
occurrences could easily run 7,000 words or more.
It is a sign of her modesty and shyness that Fanny rarely mentions
her own writing successes in the diaries. In fact, she rarely even
alludes to her own writing, nor does she impart her feelings, even when
she falls in love for the (apparent) first time after the age of 40!
Fanny Burney the Novelist
Mr. Lowndes paid Fanny's brother 20 guineas for the manuscript of
her first novel, which was published without her name being anywhere on
the book. Evelina: or, a Young Lady's Entrance into the World was
read and admired widely in the British Isles by male and female alike.
On its publication, less than a handful of her closest family knew of
her authorship. Even when her father read the widely heralded book, he
did not know his daughter was the author.
Within weeks of its publication, however, the public--and Dr.
Burney--learned of Fanny's authorship.
The book was so widely acclaimed that it was available in all the
lending libraries for threepence. Here's what Fanny had to say about it: My little book, I am told, is now at all the circulating
libraries. I have an exceeding odd sensation when I consider that it is
now in the power of any and every body to read what I so carefully
hoarded even from my best friends, till this last month or two; and that
a work which was so lately lodged, in all privacy, in my bureau, may now
be seen by every butcher and baker, cobbler and tinker, throughout the
three kingdoms, for the small tribute of threepence.
Fanny Burney was to become an instant celebrity, which was
something that was most unattractive to this shy lady. The name Fanny
Burney was on the tongues of everyone, from king to actor, and all of
them desirous of making the author's acquaintance. Think Julia Roberts,
and you'll have some idea of the lady's fame in those days when the
written word was the only means of communication, other than direct
Here is a diary entry where she overhears her father praising her
talent: 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 (her siblings)'. . . I now
found what was going forward, and therefore deemed it most fitting to
For much of the next several years, Fanny moves with the "Streatham
Set." Streatham was the country home of Mrs. Thrale, the former
Hester Lynch Salusbury, who married a fabulously wealthy brewer.
Through the doors of Streatham came the likes of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, many more men of
letters, and more lords and ladies than one can easily recall.
Four years after the publication of Evelina, Fanny's second
book, Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress was published, though
nothing of the book is mentioned in her diaries until after it is
Cecilia was also successful. It was said to be less natural
but more complex than the first novel. Jane Austin was influenced by
Fanny's books, and took the title of Pride and Prejudice from the
last pages of Cecilia. Austin also alludes to Fanny in Northanger
Fourteen years passed before Fanny's third novel, Camilla, or a
Picture of Youth was published in 1796. By then her skills had
declined, and the book--in five volumes--though a financial success, was
a critical failure.
Camilla was published partly by subscription, with the
Dowager Duchess of Leinster, the Hon. Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Crewe, and
Mrs. Locke keeping lists and receiving names of the subscribers, one of
which was Jane Austin.
Fanny's final novel, The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties,
followed 18 years later, in 1814, the same year Fanny's father died. It
was not a good year. The book was harshly reviewed. Though Fanny had
hoped to receive a badly needed 3,000 pounds for it, she had to settle
for a mere 1,500 pounds, which was considerably more than the 62 pounds
a year she and her husband had recently been living on.
Fanny at Court
While staying at Windsor in late 1785 with the widow of Jonathan
Swift's biographer, Dr. Patrick Delany, Fanny was presented to the king
and queen. Before the formal presentation, though, the king and queen
had come by the Delany cottage (which the king had given Mrs. Delany)
expressly to meet the famous novelist.
It was at this time the young Princess Elizabeth was in ill
health, which worried her loving parents. The king recounted how
Princess Elizabeth, one of the couple's 15 children, was, "trying,
at present, James's Powders. She had been blooded, he said, twelve times
in this last fortnight, and had lost 75 ounces of blood, besides
undergoing blistering and other discipline. He spoke of her illness with
the strongest emotion, and seemed quite filled with concern for her
danger and sufferings," Fanny wrote.
During that same early conversation with King George III, the king
asked how Fanny had come to be a writer. Her reply: I
hesitated most abominably, not knowing how to tell him a long story, and
growing terribly confused at these questions. . ."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.
Apparently eager to learn more, the king pressed her with
questions on how she went about getting her book published and how had
her father learned of her authorship. Fanny replied that she had never
been able to find out how her father found out. Perhaps one of her
sisters betrayed her. The king then desired to know if Fanny was writing
at present and how she had learned that her father knew of her
During Fanny's next several years' acquaintance with King George
III, the monarch would continue to converse with her on matters of her
family and herself, with a remarkable memory for everything she had
ever told him. From her diaries, the king's inquiries were not just out
of solicitousness but from a keen affection for and interest in other
Like all of her countrymen, Fanny held the king--and his
family--in deepest affection, not far removed from that reserved for
The first time Fanny saw the queen, she was too nearsighted to
tell if the queen was looking at her or someone else when she (the
queen) curtsied; therefore, Fanny was too embarrassed to curtsy back.
"I dared not return what I was not certain I had received." It
was a terribly awkward situation for Fanny, but the king smoothed
everything over by bringing up Fanny's name casually to his wife, at
which time Fanny nodded and curtsied to the queen.
Fanny was soon to become acquainted with court etiquette. The
following is Fanny's "Directions for Coughing, Sneezing, or Moving,
Before the King and Queen:"
In the first place, you must not cough. If you find a cough
tickling in your throat, you must arrest it from making any sound; if
you find yourself choking with the forbearance, you must choke--but not
In the second place, you must not sneeze. If you have a vehement
cold, you must take no notice of it; if your nose membranes feel a great
irritation, you must hold your breath; if a sneeze still insists upon
making its way, you must oppose it, by keeping your teeth grinding
together; if the violence of the repulse breaks some blood-vessel, you
must break the blood-vessel--but not sneeze.
In the third place, you must not, upon any account, stir either
hand or foot. If, by any chance, a black pin runs into your head, you
must not take it out. If the pain is very great, you must be sure to
bear it without wincing; if it brings the tears into your eyes, you must
not wipe them off; if they give you a tingling by running down your
cheeks, you must look as if nothing was the matter. If the blood should
gush from your head by means of black pin, you must let it gush; if you
are uneasy to think of making such a blurred appearance, you must be
uneasy, but you must say nothing about it. If, however, the agony is
very great, you may, privately, bite the inside of your cheek, or of
your lips, for a little relief; taking care, meanwhile, to do it so
cautiously as to make no apparent dent outwardly. And, with that
precaution, if you even gnaw a piece out, it will not be minded, only be
sure either to swallow it, or commit it to a corner of the inside of
your mouth till they are gone--for you must not spit.
Indeed, before her first meeting with the queen, Mrs. Delany told
Fanny: I do beg of you when the Queen or King speaks to you,
not to answer with mere monosyllables. The Queen often complains to me
of the difficulty with which she can get any conversation, as she not
only always has to start the subjects, but, commonly, entirely to
support them; and she says there is nothing she so much loves as
conversation, and nothing she finds so hard to get.
In the months that followed, Fanny also came to practice court
etiquette, which consisted of never turning one's back on the monarch.
Here's Fanny's tongue-in-cheek description on backing out of the king's
I have come on prodigiously, by constant practice, in the power
and skill of walking backwards, without tripping up my own heels,
feeling my head giddy, or treading my train out of the plaits--accidents
very frequent among novices in that business; and I have no doubt but
that, in the course of a few months, I shall arrive at all possible
perfection in the true court retrograde motion.
Some seven months after their meeting, Queen Charlotte (Charlotte
of Mecklenburg-Strelitz) offered Fanny the position of Assistant Keeper
of the Robes, replacing Mrs. Haggerdorn, who had come from Germany with
the queen 25 years earlier and now wished to retire to her own country.
The position came with a large income of 200 pounds a year.
From Fanny's letters, it is clear she was not thrilled at the
prospect of being a lady-in-waiting to the queen. It is also clear that
Fanny's father was overjoyed; therefore, one is convinced Fanny accepted
the position in order to please her father.
For the next five years Fanny served Queen Charlotte 365 days a
year. Not once during that time was Fanny able to visit her family,
though her family could visit her for short intervals between her daily
Those daily duties consisted of rising at 6 and and dressing, then
going to the queen from 7 to 8 to assist the queen in dressing. Fanny
would then be free until quarter to one, when the queen dressed for the
day. The mid-day dressing could last until 3. Fanny's last summons each
day was typically between 11 and midnight. That last session rarely
lasted more than 20 minutes.
The afternoon toilette consisted of powdering, also. Queen
Charlott would read the newspapers while her male hairdresser dressed
her hair. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the queen's hair was curled and
Fanny's summons usually consisted of a bell, which at first
disturbed Fanny: A bell!--it seemed so mortifying a mark of
servitude, I always felt myself blush, though alone, with conscious
shame at my own strange degradation.
Before one becomes too sympathetic with Fanny, understand Miss
Burney had her own maid, a two-room suite, her own hairdresser to
arrange those elaborate Georgian coifs, and a sedan chair born
by a footman to carry her to and fro within the castle.
The queen, though a German, spoke and read English and was always
solicitous of those around her.
She and the king were genuinely fond of one another. In one
passage, Fanny quotes the king as saying, "But the Queen is my
physician, and no man need have a better; she is my Friend, and no man
can have a better." They were also devoted parents. The queen even
insisted on sewing one of her daughter's wedding dresses, not allowing a
single stitch to come from anyone else.
Fanny does allude to an estrangement between the king and his
eldest son, The Prince of Wales (later regent), but she deigns not to
gossip. From a much later diary entry, it can be surmised some of the
ill-feeling toward the prince may have been caused by the prince's long
relationship with Mrs. Fitzherbert, with whom the prince went through a
marriage ceremony some four years earlier (in 1785). Though the
non-gossiping Fanny never mentions Mrs. Fitzherbert's relationship with
the prince, she does say it's "A singular circumstance, that their
Majesties should visit a house in which, so few years ago, she
(Mrs. Fitzherbert) might have received them." The diary entry was
made upon the queen and king visiting Lulworth Castle, owned by a man
whose brother was Mrs. Fitzherbert's first husband.
By reading the diaries, one also learns the second son (Frederick)
was King George's favorite son.
The king and queen spent most of their time at Windsor Castle,
which they preferred. At eight every morning, they went to chapel,
except when it was too cold for the queen and the princesses. Then the
king would go alone.
The queen resided at Queen's Lodge, and the four youngest
princesses resided at the Lower Lodge at Windsor.
When the Royal Family came to London in the winter, they stayed at
Kew Palace and went to St. James Palace for state occasions, such as the
Oddly, the king's and queen's birthdays, then as now, were not
celebrated on the actual day of birth. For the birthday of any member of
the Royal Family, Fanny tells us everyone present must wear a completely
new set of clothing.
During Fanny's years of servitude, she traveled with the Royal
Family, including a holiday to the sea at Weymouth and a trip to Oxford.
At Oxford, Fanny--through her diary--pokes fun at those who have
no knowledge of how one comports oneself in front of the king:
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 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 their knees,
and could hardly get up again; and many, in their confusion, fairly
arose by pulling his Majesty's hand to rise them.
TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT ISSUE, which will include the king's
"intellectual complaint" and Fanny's happy marriage.
Diary of Fanny
Burney (PART 2)
The King's "Intellectual
The first mention of the king's "ill health" appears in
Fanny's diary on October 17, 1788: The king is not well; he has not
been quite well for some time. Eight days later, she wrote of a
conversation she had with the king which alarmed her. She describes him
as conversing with "vehemence" but put it off to his
"fever." The following day, she wrote:
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.
While reading a religious article six days later, the queen bursts
out crying two times. That same day the king told Lady Effingham,
"My dear Effy, you see me, all at once, an old man." He was 50
years of age.
That evening the king spent a long time with his wife in her
dressing room, and Fanny heard him tell the queen "at least a
hundred times" not to speak to him when he got to his room so that
he might, at last, get some needed sleep. He then addressed Fanny,
saying he was "really very well, except in that one particular,
that he could not sleep."
On November 3, Fanny wrote that the queen broke into a violent fit
of tears in Fanny's company. During those days of extreme worry, Fanny
said the queen's whole recourse was in her religion. "I dreadfully
fear the king is on the eve of some severe fever," Fanny wrote.
At that time the princes came to Kew to see their father. The
queen was in a state of deep distress, and the king, according to Fanny
was "almost incomprehensible." The queen now (November 5) no
longer left the house, and Fanny was one of the few people she would see
or talk to. Fanny quit her walks and wanted to be available whenever the
queen should wish to call for her.
Fanny gives us this account of what happened at dinner that night:
The King 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.
And later that night:
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."
Few people at Windsor slept that night, so worried were they over
their king. When Fanny went to the queen the following morning, the
queen "burst into a an irresistible torrent of tears." Here is
Fanny's account of what the queen suffered that previous night:
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.
That morning the queen, unable to leave her bed, begged Fanny to
stay with her, and they could hear the king in the next room
"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 graciousness." Though the
princesses asked to come to their mother, the queen refused to see them
in her hysterical condition.
This is the first time the Prince of Wales took the government of
the royal household into his own hands.
Four doctors were now ministering to the "Royal
Sufferer," as Fanny describes the king, and his intercourse with
others--including his wife--was prohibited.
Each morning Fanny would go to the king's chambers and receive a
report on how the king passed the night, and this she would impart to
the queen. Some nights were worse than others. Apparently some of these
accounts were painfully graphic (though Fanny does not relate them)
because the queen soon came to rely on getting her news of the king from
only Fanny, who "softened" the reports.
On November 28 a Privy Council was held at the castle. Present
were the Prince of Wales, the Chancellor, Mr. Pitt, and all the officers
of state to sign a petition for the king's removal. Physicians, under
oath, reported to the council, and it was decided that the Chancellor
and Mr. Pitt would have to personally see the king. When the Chancellor
came out of the king's chambers, "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 respectful grief.
No forthcoming mention of the council's decision was mentioned.
At this time, it was agreed that the queen and princesses--and
later the king--should remove to Kew. "They left 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 ever bitterly as they looked on."
Meanwhile the king's absence from society was impossible to deny.
Reports on his "health" were issued daily to the concerned
At Kew, the Prince of Wales governed the household--and even
chalked on the door of every room there the name of the person he wished
to inhabit the room.
The first mention in the diary of a "Regency" was made
on Dec. 15, Fanny noting that the Regency was to be discussed the
following day in Parliament. She speaks no more of the Regency
By Jan. 25, the king was regaining good health because, though no
one outside of his servants and doctors saw him, he chanced to see Fanny
walking in the gardens and ran after her, much to the chagrin of his
doctors, who did not want him to converse with anyone.
Unable to stop the king, the doctors finally consented to allow
him to speak with Fanny. Having been away from society for two months,
the king was delighted to talk with Fanny. He put both of his hands on
her shoulders and kissed her cheek. Here is a passage from the account
of the conversation that followed:
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.
The two conducted a lengthy conversation while strolling through
the Kew Gardens. He assured her he was well and made inquiries about her
and her family, especially her father, which whom the king had long been
acquainted. He spoke of Mrs. Delaney and told Fanny "I will protect
you" and "I am your friend."
Twenty-three days later, on Feb. 17, the king met with the
chancellor, and the following day the king and queen made their first
public appearance in four months.
In June, when the royal entourage traveled to Weymouth for the sea
air, the people came out en masse to welcome their sovereign:
The journey to Weymouth was one scene of festivity and
rejoicing. The people were everywhere collected, and everywhere
delighted. We passed through Salisbury, where a magnificent arch was
erected, of festoons of flowers, for the King's carriage to pass under,
and mottoes with "The King restored" and "Long Live the
For three more years, Fanny would serve the queen. In 1790, when
Fanny was 38, she began to suffer ill health, much of which she
attributed to her servitude and inability to rest or to take restorative
trips. Finally, her father became aware of her suffering and--after
breaking down in tears of worry over her--encouraged her to quit her
position to the queen.
Her father's suggestion was music to Fanny's ears. Together with
her father, she drafted a letter of resignation, but it was many weeks
before she summoned the courage to present the letter to the queen, and
another half year before the queen replaced Fanny.
Fanny was upset over the queen's stiff reaction to the
resignation. It appeared the queen thought Fanny was hers for life and
resented that Fanny would wish to leave.
Nevertheless, the queen secured a replacement from Germany and
pensioned Fanny off with 100 pounds a year. Her service to queen ended
July 7, 1791.
Love Comes at Last to Fanny
Nowhere over several years of passages in the diary does Fanny
display any signs of a flirtatious nature. She never remarks of
attraction to any man, but is friends with all.
Even in the early passages about the man she eventually marries,
Fanny reveals no hint of a romance to the reader. Her first mention in
February 1793 of d'Arblay, a French exile, was "M. d'Arblay is . .
. one of the most delightful characters I have ever met, for openness,
probity, intellectual knowledge and unhackneyed manners." A most
Fluent in French, Fanny met him with a number of other French
Royalists who were lodging in Norbury Park. She and d'Arblay apparently
got on very well, for her next mention of him is three months later,
when a letter to her favorite sister, Susan, reveals that M. d'Arblay
wishes to marry her. Nowhere does Fanny mention falling in love with
d'Arblay nor his proposal to her. He is penniless, but claims he will
live happily in the country on Fanny's income. Fanny's father is
incensed; but Susan prevails on Dr. Burney, and he relents.
The couple marry in the Mickleham church on July 31, 1793, Fanny's
41st year. Her father does not attend, but her brother James, sister
Susan and Mr. and Mrs. Burke and M. de Narbonne do. A month later, the
ceremony was also performed at the Sardinian Chapel, according to the
Though Fanny did not speak romantically of her husband before
their marriage, she speaks almost worshipfully of him afterward. She
never once refers to him by his Christian (indeed, this reviewer could
not learn his Christian name) but calls him "my mate" or
"my partner." A later note in her diary beside the wedding
Never, never was union more blessed and felicitous; though
after the first eight years of unmingled happiness, it was assailed by
many calamities, chiefly of separation or illness, yet still mentally
Her husband was apparently as devoted to her as she to him. In the
first year of their marriage she narrates that she and her husband would
take long country walks together, and that he carried with him a
portable garden chair in order for her to rest from time to time. Though
unsaid, the fact that she delivered a son (Alexander) during that first
year of marriage explains her husband's concern for her.
The publication of her third novel the first year of the marriage
greatly relieved the couple's financial hardships. On land near the
Burkes' home, they were able to build their own "cottage" of
her husband's design that had room for their "maids." Madame
d'Arblay's husband determined to grow by his own hand one-third of their
food, but his efforts oftentimes proved disastrous.
The two were apparently very affectionate parents. She wrote:
"When I look at my little boy's dear, innocent, yet intelligent
face, I defy any pursuit to be painful that may lead to his good."
Indeed, whenever she mentions "my Alex" it is with complete
The d'Arblays were to become separated in their ninth year of
marriage when her husband returned to France in order to obtain a
portion of his pension from serving previously as a general in the
King's Garde du Corps. He was unable to return to England as he had
previously thought, and Fanny and Alexander soon joined him in Paris.
"Never did I know happiness away from that companion, no, not even
out of his sight," Fanny writes about her husband.
They were to live in Paris for the next eight years, during which
time Fanny lost her pension from the queen and had to live on her
husband's meager salary. Also during much of those years, she was
prohibited from communication with the English. By the time Alexander
was 17, both his parents feared Bonaparte would conscript him. During
1812, in stealth, Fanny and Alexander fled France under forged American
In England, Alexander entered Cambridge.
Fanny was again in France when Napoleon escaped from Elba and
mounted an army, and she was evacuated to Brussels during the Waterloo
After the war, the d'Arblays settled in Bath, partly due to her
husband's infirmity. Her husband died on May 3, 1818. Here is her
account of attending church services two weeks after his passing:
This melancholy second Sunday since my irreparable loss I
ventured to church. I hoped it might calm my mind and subject it to its
new state--its lost--lost happiness. But I suffered inexpressibly; I
sunk on my knees, and could scarcely contain my sorrows--scarcely rise
any more! But I prayed--fervently--and I am glad I made the trial,
however severe. Oh, mon ami! mon tendre ami: if you looked down: if that
be permitted, how benignly will you wish my participation in your
In the coming years Fanny edited and published her father's
memoirs, and Alexander entered the church, becoming a minister of Ely
Chapel, which was apparently a high position in the Church of England.
He did not marry before he took influenza and died in 1837 at 43 years
of age. Fanny continued to live quietly--and sadly--for three and a half
more years and died on Jan. 6, 1840, at the age of 82.
found in the Diaries
of Fanny Burney (1752-1840)
- In the Regency era, addressing friends by their Christian names was
almost unheard of. The only persons whom Fanny refers to by first name
in the diaries are her siblings. Even when she lived with the wealthy
Mrs. Thrale for a number of years, she never referred to Mrs. Thrale's
daughter as anything but Miss Thrale.
- We know that men in the Georgian/Regency era always bowed. Did they
ever shake hands? Well, as an apology, Dr. Johnson does, indeed, offer
his hand to a man he offended.
- Here's some Georgian slang: She looked at me as if she wished me
to Coventry. Or, He was acting very John Bullish.
- During the Gordon Riots, the Catholic chapel in Bath was burned, as
was the priest's house.
- Coffee was used alternately with tea.
- Those traveling brought a change of linen.
- When quite old and struck by a stroke, Dr. Johnson composed a
prayer to the Almighty: Our Blessed Savior spare my intellect and let
the sufferings fall on my body.
- When sea bathing, women wore flannel dresses, tucked up, and no
shoes or stockings, with bandeaux and girdles.
- When the royal entourage went to the coast, even the bathing
machines were emblazoned with the motto: God Save the King