The Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay Volume Ii Part 37

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be the greatest hazard a character could run. This was, being maid of honour.


Tuesday, July 22-To-day, at noon, I had a surprise with which I was very well pleased. His majesty opened the door of my little parlour, called out, “Come, Come in -,” and was followed by Major Price. He was just arrived from his little farm in Herefordshire, and will stay here some days. It is particularly fortunate just now, when another gentleman was really required to a.s.sist in attendance upon the royal party.

Mr. Seward, with a good-humoured note, sent me the magazine with Baretti’s strictures on Mrs. Thrale. Good heaven, how abusive!

It can hardly hurt her–it is so palpably meant to do it. I could not have suspected him, with all his violence, of a bitterness of invective so cruel, so ferocious!

I well remember his saying to me, when first I saw him after the discovery of “Evelina”…… I see what it is you can do, you little witch–it is, that you can hang us all up for laughing- stocks; but hear me this one thing–don’t meddle with me. I see what they are, your powers; but remember, when you provoke an Italian you run a dagger into your own breast!”

I half shuddered at the fearful caution from him, because the dagger was a word of unfortunate recollection:(284) but, good heaven! it could only be a half Shudder when the caution was against an offence I could sooner die than commit, and which, I may truly say, if personal attack was what he meant, never even in sport entered my mind, and was ever, in earnest, a thing I have held in the deepest abhorrence.

I must do, however, the justice to his candour to add, that upon a newer acquaintance with me, which immediately followed, he never repeated his admonition; and when “Cecilia” came out, and he hastened to me with every species of extravagant encomium, he never hinted at any similar idea, and it seemed evident he concluded me, by that time, incapable

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meriting such a suspicion; though, to judge by his own conduct, a proceeding of this sort may to him appear in a very different light. He thinks, at least, a spirit of revenge may authorize any attack, any insult. How unhappy and how strange! to join to so much real good nature as this man possesses when pleased, a disposition so savagely vindictive when offended.


Thursday, July 24–“Pray, Miss Burney,” cried Colonel Gwynn, “do you think Mr. Fairly will ever marry again?”

“I think it very doubtful,” I answered, “but I hope he will, for, whether he is happy or not in marrying, I am sure he will be wretched in singleness; the whole turn of his mind is so social and domestic. He is by no means formed for going always abroad for the relief of society; he requires it more at hand.”

“And what do you think of Miss Fuzilier?”

“That he is wholly disengaged with her and with everybody.”

“Well, I think it will be, for I know they correspond ; and what should he correspond with her for else?”

“Because, I suppose, he has done it long before this could be suggested as the motive. And, indeed, the very quickness of the report makes me discredit it; ’tis so utterly impossible for a man whose feelings are so delicate to have taken any steps towards a second connexion at so early a period.”

“Why, I know he’s very romantic,–but I should like to know your opinion.”

“I have given it you,” cried I, “very exactly.”


Not long after, when all the party was broke up from my little parlour, though not yet set out for Gloucester, who should again surprise me by entering but Mr. Fairly! I was quite rejoiced by his sight. He was better, though not well. His face is almost reduced to its natural size. He had a letter for her majesty from Lord Aylesbury, and had determined to venture bringing it himself.

He said he would carry it in to the queen, and then return to my parlour, if I would give him some breakfast.

You may suppose I answered “No!” But, afterwards, fearing he might

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be detained and fatigued, he asked me to present it for him, and only say he was waiting in my room for commands. I was forced to say “Yes,” though I had rather not.

Her majesty was much surprised to hear he was again out so unexpectedly, and asked if he thought of going to Gloucester?

“No,” I said, “I believed he was not equal to that.”

She bid me tell him she would see him before she went.

I returned with this message, and would then have ordered him fresh breakfast; but he declared if I was fidgety he should have no comfort, and insisted on my sitting quietly down, while he drew a chair by my side, and made his own cold tea, and drank it weak and vapid, and eat up all the miserable, without suffering me to call for plate, knife, bread, b.u.t.ter, or anything for replenishment. And when he had done, and I would have made some apology, he affected me for him a good deal by gravely saying, “Believe me, this is the pleasantest breakfast I have made these six days.”

He then went on speaking of his late confinement, and its comfortless circ.u.mstances, in very strong terms, dwelling on its solitude and its uselessness, as if those only formed its disagreeability, and the pain went for nothing. Social and kind is his heart, and finely touched to the most exquisite sensations of sympathy; and, as I told Colonel Gwynn, I must needs wish he may yet find some second gentle partner fitted to alleviate his sorrows, by giving to him an object whose happiness would become his first study.

He brought me back the few books I had procured him but I had no fresh supply. He spoke again of the favourite “Letters,” and said he felt so sure I should be pleased with them, that he was desirous I should look at them, adding There is no person into whose hands I would not put them not even my daughter’s.”

It was now impossible to avoid saying I should be glad to see them: it would seem else to doubt either his taste or his delicacy, while I have the highest opinion of both. In talking them over he told me he believed them to be genuine; “But the woman,” he said, “throughout the whole correspondence, is too much the superior. She leaves the man far behind. She is so collected, so composed, so constantly mistress of herself, so unbiased by her pa.s.sions, so rational, and so dignified, that I would even recommend her as an example to any young woman in similar circ.u.mstances to follow.”

Page 179 He was summoned to her majesty, in the dining-parlour. But when they were all set out on the Gloucester expedition, he returned to my little parlour, and stayed with me a considerable time.

Grave he came back–grave quite to solemnity, and almost wholly immersed in deep and sad reflections, He spoke little, and that little with a voice so melancholy, yet so gentle, that it filled me with commiseration.

At length, after much silence and many pauses, which I never attempted to interrupt or to dissipate, continuing my work as if not heeding him, he led himself distantly, yet intelligibly–to open upon the immediate state of his mind.

I now found that the king’s staying on at Cheltenham a fifth week was scarcely supportable to him; that the 16th of next month was the mournful anniversary of his loss, and that he had planned to dedicate it in some peculiar manner to her memory, with his four children. Nothing of this was positively said; for

“He feels the chast.i.ty of silent woe.”

But all of it was indubitably comprised in the various short but pointed sentences which fell from him.


Friday, July 25.-Again, to a very late breakfast came Mr. Fairly, which again he made for himself, when the rest were dispersed, of all the odd remnants, eatable and drinkable. He was much better, and less melancholy. He said he should be well enough to join the royal party to-morrow, who were to dine and spend the whole day at Lord Coventry’s at Coombe. . . .

In the afternoon, while Miss Planta and myself were Sitting over our dessert, a gentle rap at the parlour-door preceded Mr.

Fairly. How we both started! He was m.u.f.fled up in a great coat, and said he came quite incog., as he was not well enough to dine anywhere but in his private apartment, nor to attend the royals to the walks, whither they go every evening. He had only strolled out for a walk by himself.

I could not persuade him to sit down; he said he must be gone immediately, lest he should be seen, and the king, not aware of his unfitness, should order his attendance.

Miss Planta, presently, was obliged to go to the princesses,

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and wait with them till the promenade took place. Quietly, then, he drew a chair to the table, and I saw he had something to say; but, after a little general talk he rose and was going : when, hearing by the dogs the royal family were just in motion, he pulled off his great coat and seated himself again.

And then, he took from his pocket a small volume, which he said he had taken this opportunity to bring me. You Will be sure it was the “Original Letters.;”

I took them, and thanked him: he charged me with a very grave air to keep them safe, and I put them into my work-box–my dear Fredy’s work-box–which here is my universal repository of small goods and chattels, and useful past all thanks.

By the time they Were set off, however, we were entered into conversation, and he said he would venture to stay tea; “though, as I tell you,” he added, “what I do not tell everybody, I must confess I have upon me some certain symptoms that make me a little suspect these Cheltenham waters are going to bring me to a fit of the gout.”

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