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The Diary of Fanny

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 acclaim.

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 conversation.

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 decamp.

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 published.

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 Abbey.

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 authorship.

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 people.

Like all of her countrymen, Fanny held the king--and his family--in deepest affection, not far removed from that reserved for deity.

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 cough.

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 chamber:

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 duties.

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 craped.

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 king's birthday.

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 Malady"

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 public.

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 discussion.

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 King."

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 unromantic description.

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 Romish Church.

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 entry reads:

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 unbroken.

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 affection.

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 passports.

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 campaign.

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 blessed relief!

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.

Interesting Tidbits 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


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