On the morning of February 2nd, 1789, a lady was taking a solitary stroll in Kew Gardens. She was a small person, of dainty features, with a dimple on each side of her mouth that suggested a smile, varying, perhaps out of compliment to the variations of the people with whom she came in contact in her daily life, and shifting doubtless with the movements of the folk of her fancy through her quick brain, but remaining a smile all the time. There was about her a good deal of that doll-like primness which is so pretty an accompaniment of a person of small stature; but with this particular person it had—not quite, but almost—the additional charm of dignity. One could at all times see that she was making a highly intellectual attempt to be dignified; but that she was not really dignified at heart. One could see that she had too fine a sense of humour to be thoroughly dignified; and it may be that some of her closest observers—her closest observers were her greatest admirers—perceived now and again that she had a full sense of the humour of her efforts in the direction of dignity. She had large eyes, but being very short-sighted, she had a habit of half closing them when looking at anything or any one further away from her than ten feet. But somehow it was never suggested that the falling of her lids brought a frown to her face.

She was a quick walker at all times; but on this winter day the slowest would have had little temptation to dawdle. The usual river mist was thrusting up a quivering cold hand among the gaunt trees of the water boundary of the Gardens, and here and there it flitted like a lean spectre among the clipped evergreens of the shrubberies. There was a maze of yew hedges, in the intricacies of which one mist-spectre had clearly got lost; and the lady, who had some imagination, could see, as she hurried past, the poor thing's wispy head and shoulders flitting about among the baffling central walks. (A defective eyesight is sometimes a good friend to the imagination.) And all the while she was hurrying along the broad track she was looking with some measure of uneasiness through her half-closed eyes down every tributary walk that ran into the main one, and peering uneasily down every long artificial vista that Sir Thomas Chambers, the Swedish knight and landscape gardener, had planned, through the well-regulated boskage, with an imitation Greek temple or Roman villa at the end. Approaching the widening entrance to each of these, she went cautiously for a few moments until she had assured herself on some point. Once she started and took a step backward, but raising the lorgnette which she carried, and satisfying herself that the group of men a hundred yards down one of the vistas was composed wholly of gardeners, she resumed her stroll.

Whatever slight apprehension may have been on her mind had vanished by the time she had half completed the circuit made by the main walk. She had reached one of the mounds which at that time were covered with rhododendrons, and paused for a moment to see if there was sign of a bud. A blackbird flew out from among the dense leafage, and she followed it with her eyes as well as she could while she walked on, crossing the narrow path that led to the seats on the mound. But at the moment of crossing she was startled out of her senses by the sound of a shout from some distance down this path—a loud shout followed by several others rather less imperative. She gave a little exclamation of terror, raising her muff to her face. Glancing in the direction whence the commotion was coming, she gave another cry, seeing a tall man rush toward her with outstretched arms—waving arms, frantically beckoning to her while he shouted:

“Miss Burney! Miss Burney!”

She waited no longer. She turned and fled along the broad walk, making for one of the many labyrinths not so very far away, and after her ran the man, still shouting and gesticulating. She could hear the sound of his feet and his voice behind her, as well as the cries of the other men who were endeavouring to keep pace with him. On they came, and there flashed through her active brain, in spite of the horrible apprehension which thrilled through every nerve in her body, as she doubled back upon the path which she had just traversed, the lines written by Dr. Goldsmith and often quoted by her friend Dr. Johnson:

A hare whom hounds and horns pursue,

Pants to the place from whence at first he flew.

She realised, all too painfully, the feelings of the poor hare at that moment. She longed for a friendly earth to open up before her. They were behind her—those wild huntsmen, one hoarsely yelling to her she knew not what, the others, more shrill, shouting to her to stop.

She was too frightened to think of obeying any of them. On she ran, and it seemed that she was increasing the distance between her and her panting pursuers, until one of them, having better wind, managed to shoot ahead of the others, and to get close enough to say in a voice that was not all gasps:

“Madam, madam, the doctor begs you to stop!” She glanced over her shoulder, still flying.

“No, no, I cannot—I dare not!” she gasped.

“Madam, you must—you must: it hurts the King to run!” cried the man.

Then she stopped. The man, an ordinary attendant, stood in front of her. He was more breathless than Miss Burney.

“The doctor, madam,” he faltered, “'twas the doctor—he thought at first that His Majesty was—was—but that was at first—now he says you must please not lead His Majesty on—'tis all too much for him. Save us! How you did go, madam! Who would ha' thought it?”

She was paying no attention to him. Her eyes were fixed upon the group of men who were recovering their breath while they walked slowly toward her. The King was between his two physicians—not Physicians in Ordinary; just the contrary—the two physicians who had been summoned from Lincolnshire by some person in authority who possessed intelligence—it should surely be easy to identify such a man at the Court of George III—when, some months earlier, His Majesty gave signs of losing his mental balance. They were the Willises, father and son, the former a clergyman, who was therefore all the more fully qualified to deal with a mind diseased—such a case as was defined as needing more the divine than the physician. The King was between the father and his son, but neither of them was exercising any ostentatious or officious restraint upon him. One of them was smiling while he said some reassuring words to the Royal patient; the other was endeavouring to reassure little Miss Burney from a distance.

And it seemed that the intentions of both were realised, for His Majesty was smiling as benignly as was ever his wont, and little Miss Burney took her courage in both hands and boldly advanced to meet her Sovereign. (She had been for three years the Queen's “Dresser.”) But when they met, after the King had cried, “Why did you run away from me, Miss Burney?” it appeared that the process of reassuring the King had been but too effectually accomplished, for before the lady could frame a diplomatic reply to his inquiry, he had enwound her in his paternal arms and kissed her heartily on the cheek, greatly to her confusion and (she pretends) to her horror. The two doctors stood placidly by. They, poor things, being quite unaccustomed to the ways of the immediate entourage of the Court of George III—though they had doubtless heard something of the practices that prevailed at the Courts of His Majesty's lamented grandfather and great-grandfather—seemed under the impression that there was nothing unusual in this form of salutation. For all they knew it might be regarded as de rigueur between a monarch and the ladies of his consort's retinue. Even Dr. Willis, the divine, took a tolerant view of the transaction. He, as Miss Burney afterwards recorded, actually looked pleased!

But, of course, the prim little lady herself was overwhelmed—yes, at first; but soon her good sense came to her rescue. She seems to have come with extraordinary rapidity to the conclusion that the King was not so mad as she had believed him to be. Her train of reasoning was instinctive, and therefore correct: the King had put his arms about her and kissed her when he had the chance, therefore he could not be so mad after all.

In truth, however, Fanny Burney took the view of her treatment that any sensible modest young woman would take of it. She knew that the King, who had been separated for several months from the people whom he had been daily in the habit of meeting, had shown in the most natural way possible his delight at coming once more in contact with one of them.

And undoubtedly the homely old gentleman was delighted beyond measure to meet with some one belonging to his happy years—a pleasanter face than that of Mrs. Schwellenberg, the dreadful creature who had made Fanny Burney's life miserable. It is not conceivable that the King would have kissed Mrs. Schwellenberg if he had come upon her suddenly as he had upon Miss Burney. People prefer silver rather than iron links with a happy past. He was so overjoyed, that the divine and the physician in attendance soon became anxious. They could not know much of all that he talked about to Miss Burney. They were in the position of strangers suddenly introduced to a family circle, and understanding nothing of the little homely secrets—homely topics upon which all the members of the circle have laughed together for years.

They possibly could not see much sense in his long and rambling chat—it must have been largely in monologue—but they must have observed the face of the lady who was listening to him, and known from the expression which it wore that their patient was making himself intelligible. Only now and again they thought it prudent to check his exuberance. They must have been the most intelligent of men; and their names deserve to stand high in the annals of their country. At a time when the scientific treatment of the insane had not even begun to be formulated—when to be mentally afflicted meant to be on a level with felons and to be subjected to such repressive treatment as was afforded by the iron of the fetters and the hiss of the whipcord—at a time when a lust for office could make a statesman like Burke (a statesman who caused multitudes to weep in sympathy with his harangue on the sufferings of Marie Antoinette) refer to the King as having been “hurled by the Almighty from his throne” (in order to give the Opposition a chance of jumping into place and power over his prostrate body)—at such a time as this Dr. Willis and his two sons undertook the treatment of the King, and in the face of much opposition from the place-hunters in the Prince of Wales's pack, succeeded in restoring their patient to the palace which his happy nature had transformed into a home for every one dwelling under its roof.

They stood by for some time after the King had greeted Miss Burney; and when he began to speak to her of topics that had a purely domestic ring they showed their good taste, as well as their knowledge of the peculiarities of their “case,” by moving away to a little distance, signalling to their attendants to do the same. Their discrimination must have been highly appreciated by the King. The poor restless mind had long wanted such a good long talk with a sympathetic listener, who, he knew, could understand every allusion that he might make to the past. He yearned to talk and to hear of such things as some one living in a distant land looks forward to finding in a letter from home. The res angusta domi—that was what he was hungering for—the trivial things in which he delighted—the confidences on simple matters—the sly everyday jests, never acutely pointed even to the family circle, but absolutely pointless to every one outside, yet sounding so delightfully witty when repeated as a sign of a happy intimacy of the past!

Little Miss Burney had never imagined a scene like that in which she played an insignificant part at the moment, but one of enormous importance for posterity. She had, a few years before, been placed upon the porphyry pedestal which is reserved in England for the greatest woman writer of the generation. Seated there quite complacently, without reflecting upon the possibility of her pedestal becoming a trifle rickety, she had clasped her novel Evelina to her bosom, and received, without her head being in the least turned, the adulation—respectful in some cases, almost passionate in others—of the most notable men and women in the most intellectual and artistic society in England. Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was not disposed to overrate the merits of any writer whom the world had praised, was kissing her hands, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan was kissing her feet; Sir Joshua Reynolds was kissing the hem of her garments; while Edmund Burke was weaving a tinsel crown of rhetoric for her shapely head; but there were others equally great at that time who seemed to think that only a nimbus could give the appropriate finish to the little personage on the pedestal. The marvellous story of her success has been often told. It is more easily told than understood in the present day, the fact being that fashion in fiction is the most ephemeral of all human caprices, and Fanny Burney was essentially a fashion. She followed up the marvellous success of Evelina, after an interval of four years, with the natural success of Cecilia, and, after another four years, she retired from the brilliant world into the obscurity of the palace—the palace wardrobe. She had visited Mrs. Delany, and had been introduced (not presented) to the King and Queen, and the office of Queen's Dresser—Keeper of the Robes was the stately designation of a very humble service—becoming vacant, it was offered to Fanny Burney and accepted by her, acting on the advice of her father, who most certainly hoped that his own interests as a musician, fully qualified to become leader of the Royal Band, would be materially advanced when his daughter should become one of the Household.

Reams of indignation have been published from time to time in respect of Dr. Burney's conduct in urging on his one brilliant daughter—the others were not brilliant, only mothers—to accept a post the duties of which could be discharged by any lady's maid with far more advantage to the Royal Consort than could possibly result from the ministrations of Fanny Burney. The world has been called on to bemoan the prudent indiscretion of the father, who did not hesitate to fling his gifted daughter's pen out of the window, so to speak, and thereby deprive the waiting world of some such masterpiece as Camilla—the novel which she published five years after her release from the burden of the Robes. There can be no doubt that the feeling which prevailed among the circle of the elect—the Reynoldses, the Burkes, and even the frigid Walpole—when it became known that Miss Burney's health was breaking down under the strain of her duties at the Court—she had about two hours' daily attendance of the most ordinary nature upon the Queen—was on the border of indignation. Every one affirmed that it was a disgrace for so lively a genius to be kept at the duties of a lady's maid. It was like turning the winner of the Oaks out to the plough. Edmund Burke, recalling his early approbation of the intentions of Dr. Burney in regard to his daughter, declared that he had never made so great a mistake in all his life; and we know that he made a few. These excellent people had no reason to speak otherwise than they did on this matter. All they knew was that the pen of the novelist who had given them so much pleasure had been (as they believed) idle for nearly nine years, five of which had been passed at the Court. That reflection was quite enough to rouse their indignation. But what can one say of the indignation on this point of a writer who actually made the fact of his being engaged on a review of the Diary of Fanny Burney—the incomparable Diary which she kept during her five years at Court—an excuse for turning the vials of his wrath upon her father, whose obstinacy gave her a chance of writing the most interesting chapter—the most accurate chapter—of History that was ever penned by man or woman?

Macaulay wrote in all the fullness of his knowledge of what Fanny Burney had written. He knew that for four years after she had published Cecilia her pen had been idle so far as fiction was concerned. He knew that for five years after her release from the thraldom of the Queen's closet she had published nothing; he himself felt it to be his duty to point out the comparative worthlessness of Camilla, the novel which she then gave to the world, not because she felt upon her the impulse of a woman of genius, but simply because she found herself in great need of some ready money. Macaulay does not disdain to go into the money question, showing (he fancies) how Dr. Burney had by his obstinacy deprived his gifted daughter of earning the large sum which she would assuredly have obtained by the writing of a novel in the time that she was compelled to devote to the Queen's toilette. He found it convenient to ignore the fact that of the fourteen years that elapsed between the publication of Cecilia and that of Camilla only five were spent at Court. Surely any born novelist could, without running a chance of imperilling a well-earned reputation by undue haste in the dialogue or by scamping the descriptive passages, contrive by dint of hard, but not over-hard, work to produce more than one complete romance within a space of nine years. Many ladies who are not born novelists have succeeded in surpassing this task without physical suffering.

But even assuming that the author of Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla lost not only time but money while she was at Court, how much money did she lose? She received at least the equivalent of £2000 for her five years' service, and she was granted a pension of £100 a year, which she drew for forty-nine years; so that for her enforced seclusion she was remunerated to the extent of close upon £7000! This sum represents more than all Fanny Burney's literary works yielded to her from the joyous youthful days of Evelina down to the somewhat sordid middle age of Camilla.

But what has the world gained by the lamentable short-sightedness attributed to Dr. Burney? How is one to estimate the value of that incomparable Diary so admirably “written up” during her tedious five years at Court? How many Cecilias, how many Camillas would one not give in exchange for a single year of that part of the Diary which deals with the approach of the King's malady? In no work of fiction that ever came from her pen did she ever show such power of observation, not only of incident, but of character as well; nor is there apparent on any page produced by her imagination such perfect artistic effects as appeal to a reader on every page of this Diary of a disease.

At the outset of her account of these dreadful days we are conscious of the vague approach of a shadow—we feel as if we were led into the darkened chamber of a haunted house. Our attendant pauses by our side, listening for strange noises; she lays a hand upon our arm, as it were, and speaks to us in a whisper. We feel that the dread Thing is coming. The King is indisposed—he has not been quite in his usual health for some time past; but of course nothing very alarming has been announced by Sir George Barker, the Physician in Ordinary, although there is an uncertainty as to His Majesty's complaint. But Miss Burney has seen the faces of the people about her who have come more closely in contact with the Sovereign; she has doubtless noticed the solemnity of some—the airs of mystery, the head-shakings, and she is capable of drawing her own conclusions. “Heaven preserve him!” she whispers in her Diary for October 19th, 1788. She is very much with the Queen, and she perceives that Her Majesty is extremely uneasy, though saying nothing. There is great alarm during the night. Possibly some one has heard the delirious voice of the King coming from his apartments in that tumbledown palace of his at Kew. The fright is general, and every one is wondering what the morning will bring forth. Hope comes with the light. The bulletin is that the King was ill, but is now so very much better that his physician believes the move to Windsor, to which the Court was looking forward, may be taken. The move is made on the 25th, and then Miss Burney has a chance meeting with the King that causes her to suspect the truth. He talks to her with unnatural vehemence—unnatural volubility—and without cessation for a long time; all is exaggerated, and his graciousness most of all. She has never met with anything like this before, but having heard of the delirium accompanying a high fever, she believes that His Majesty is in the throes of a fever.

The next day is Sunday, and she meets him again in one of the passages, and she finds him rather more coherent in his talk, but still it is the talk of a man in the delirium of a fever. It is all about himself—his health—his dreadful sleeplessness. He keeps at it for half an hour without making the slightest pause; and yet he manages to convey to her an impression of his benevolence—his consideration for the people around him—his hopes that he may not cause them any uneasiness. When he leaves her she doubtless tells of the meeting to some of her friends in the apartments where the equerries are accustomed to meet, and doubtless there are more head-shakings and airs of mystery; but she records: “Nobody speaks of his illness, nor what they think of it.”

Apparently, too, no one felt it to be necessary to subject His Majesty to any course of treatment, although, a few days later, he became so weak that he, who at the beginning of the year thought nothing of walking twelve miles at a stretch—more than his sons could do—hobbled along like a gouty man. Gradually, very gradually, the horror approaches; and nothing that has ever been done in fiction equals in effect the simple record of all that Fanny Burney noticed from day to day. Most touching of all her entries are those relating to the Queen. “The Queen,” she writes, “is almost overpowered with some secret terror. I am affected beyond all expression in her presence to see what struggles she makes to support her serenity. To-day she gave up the conflict when I was alone with her; and burst into a violent fit of tears. It was very, very terrible to see!... something horrible seemed impending... I was still wholly unsuspicious of the greatness of the cause she had for dread. Illness, a breaking up of the constitution, the payment of sudden infirmity and premature old age for the waste of unguarded health and strength—these seemed to me the threats awaiting her; and great and grievous enough, yet how short of the fact!”...

At last the terrible truth was revealed. Miss Burney was dining with one of the Queen's ladies; but there was little conversation between them. It was clear that both had their suspicions of the nature of the dread shadow that was hovering over the castle. They remained together, waiting for the worst. “A stillness the most uncommon reigned over the whole house. Nobody stirred; not a voice was heard; not a motion. I could do nothing but watch, without knowing for what; there seemed a strangeness in the house most extraordinary.”

To talk of such passages as these as examples of literary art would be ridiculous. They are transcripts from life itself made by some one with a genius for observation, not merely for recording. Boswell had a genius for recording; but his powers of observation were on a level with those of a sheep. We know perfectly well what his treatment of the scenes leading up to the tragedy of the King would have been. But Fanny Burney had the artist's instinct for collecting only such incidents as heighten the effect.

When she is still sitting in the dim silence of that November evening with her friend some one enters to whisper that there was to be no playing of the after-dinner music in which the King usually took so much pleasure. Later on the equerries come slowly into the room. There is more whispering—more head-shaking. What was it all about? Had anything happened? What had happened? No one wishes to be the first to speak. But the suspense! The strain upon the nerves of the two ladies! At last it can be borne no longer. The dreadful revelation is made. The King is a madman!

At dinner, the Prince of Wales being present, His Majesty 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. No one knew what was to follow—no one could conjecture the event.” Nothing could be more pathetic than the concern of the King for his wife. His delusion is that she is the sufferer. When Fanny Burney went to her room, where she was accustomed to await her nightly summons to attend Her Majesty, she remained there alone for two hours. At midnight she can stand the suspense no longer. She opens the door and listens in the passage. Not a sound is to be heard. Not even a servant crossed the stairs on the corridor off which her apartment opened. After another hour's suspense a page knocks at her door with the message that she is to go at once to her Royal mistress.

“My poor Royal Mistress!” she writes. “Never can I forget her countenance—pale, ghastly pale she looked... her whole frame was disordered, yet she was still and quiet. And the poor King is dreadfully uneasy about her. Nothing was the matter with himself, he affirmed, except nervousness on her account. He insisted on having a bed made up for himself in her dressing-room in order that he might be at hand should she become worse through the night. He had given orders that Miss Goldsworthy was to remain with her; but it seemed that he had no great confidence in the vigilance of any one but himself, for some hours after the Queen had retired he appeared before the eyes of the horrified lady-in-waiting, at the door, bearing a lighted candle. He opened the bed curtains and satisfied himself that his dread of her being carried out of the palace was unfounded; but he did not leave the room for another half-hour, and the terror of the scene completely overwhelmed the unhappy lady.”

Truly when this terror was walking by night Fanny Burney's stipend was well earned. But worse was in store for her when it was decided that the King should be removed to Kew Palace, which he detested and which was certainly the most miserable of all the miserable dwelling-places of the Royal Family. It seemed to be nobody's business to make any preparation for the reception of the Queen and her entourage. The rooms were dirty and unwarmed, and the corridors were freezing. And to the horrors of this damp, unsavoury barrack was added Mrs. Schwellenberg, the German she-dragon who had done her best to make Fanny Burney's life unendurable during the previous three years. Formerly Fanny had dwelt upon the ill-treatment she had received at the hands of this old harridan; but now she only refers to her as an additional element of casual discomfort. The odious creature is “so oppressed between her spasms and the house's horrors, that the oppression she inflicted ought perhaps to be pardoned. It was, however, difficult enough to bear,” she adds. “Harshness, tyranny, dissension, and even insult seemed personified. I cut short details upon this subject—they would but make you sick.”

Truly little Miss Burney earned her wages at this time. The dilapidated palace was only rendered habitable by the importation of a cartload of sandbags, which were as strategically distributed for the exclusion of the draughts as if they were the usual defensive supply of a siege. But even this ingenious device failed to neutralise the Arctic rigours of the place. The providing of carpets for some of the bare floors of the bedrooms and passages was a startling innovation; but eventually it was carried out. An occasional set of curtains also was smuggled into this frozen fairy palace, and a sofa came now and again.

But in spite of all these auxiliaries to luxury—in spite, too, of Mrs. Schwellenberg's having locked herself into her room, forbidding any one to disturb her—the dreariness and desolation of the December at Kew must have caused Miss Burney to think with longing of the comforts of her father's home in St. Martin's Street and of the congenial atmosphere which she breathed during her numerous visits to the Thrales' solid mansion at Streatham.


The condition of the King was becoming worse, and early whispers of the necessity for a Regency grew louder. It was understood that Mrs. Fitzherbert would be made a duchess! Everybody outside the palace sought to stand well in the estimation of the Prince of Wales, and Pitt was pointed out as a traitor to his country because he did his best to postpone the Comus orgy which every one knew would follow the establishing of a Regency. The appointment of the Doctors Willis was actually referred to as a shocking impiety, suggesting as it did a wicked rebellion against the decree of the Almighty, Who, according to Burke, had hurled the monarch from his throne. There were, however, some who did not regard Mr. Burke as an infallible judge on such a point, and no one was more indignant at the mouthings of the rhetorician than Miss Burney. But it seemed as if the approach of the Regency could no longer be retarded. The Willises were unable to certify to any improvement in the condition of the King during the month of January, 1789. It was really not until he had that chase after Fanny Burney in Kew Gardens that a change for the better came about.

Though she was greatly terrified by his affectionate salutation, she could not but have been surprised at the sanity displayed in the monologue that followed; for one of the first of his innumerable questions revealed to her the fact that he was perfectly well aware of what a trial to her patience was the odious Mrs. Schwellenberg. He asked how she was getting on with Mrs. Schwellenberg, and he did so with a laugh that showed her how well he appreciated her difficulties in this direction in the past. Before she could say a word he was making light of the Schwellenberg—adopting exactly the strain that he knew would be most effective with Miss Burney.

“Never mind her—never mind her! Don't be oppressed! I am your friend! Don't let her cast you down—I know that you have a hard time of it—but don't mind her!”

The advice and the tone in which it was given—with a pleasant laugh—did not seem very consistent with what she expected from a madman. Fanny Burney appears up to that moment to have been under the impression that the King and Queen had known nothing of the tyranny and the insults to which she had been subjected by Mrs. Schwellenberg. But now it was made plain to her that the eyes of the Royal couple had been open all the time. If Macaulay had noticed the passage touching upon this point he would have had still stronger grounds for his attack upon their Majesties for their want of consideration for the tire-woman who was supposed never to be tired.

But how much more surprised must Fanny Burney have been when the King went on to talk to her in the most cordially confidential way about her father! It must have been another revelation to her when he showed how fully he realised the ambitions of Dr. Burney. He asked her regarding the progress of the History of Music, at which Dr. Burney had been engaged for several years, and this gave him a chance of getting upon his favourite topic, the music of Handel. But when he began to illustrate some of his impressions on this fruitful theme by singing over the choruses of an oratorio or two—perhaps such trifles as “All we like Sheep,” or “Lift up your Heads,” or the “Hallelujah”—he must have gone far toward neutralising the good opinion she had formed as to his sanity. Fortunately the attendant doctors interposed at this point; but the fact that the distinguished amateur suffered their adverse criticism proves to posterity that the King was even more good-natured than he had been painted by Miss Burney.

On then he went to talk of the subject which must never have been far from Dr. Burney's heart—the Mastership of the King's Band: “Your father ought to have had the post, and not that little poor musician Parsons, who was not fit for it,” he cried. “But Lord Salisbury used your father very ill in that business, and so he did me! However, I have dashed out his name, and I shall put your father's in—as soon as I get loose again. What has your father got at last? Nothing but that poor thing at Chelsea! Oh, fie! fie! But never mind! I will take care of him—I will do it myself!”

Could he have given the devoted daughter of Dr. Burney a more emphatic proof of his complete recovery to sanity than this? Why, it would have convinced Dr. Burney himself!

Alas! although the King may have been very resolute at the moment—he had just been making out a list of new officers of State, and was ready to show her that the name of her father's enemy, Lord Salisbury, was not to be found in it, and he assured her that in future he would rule with a rod of iron—yet before he returned to his ordinary way of life he must have mislaid his list, for poor Dr. Burney remained at his post of organist of Chelsea Hospital. He never attained to the place which he coveted and for which his daughter was sent to five years' Royal servitude, and (incidentally) to achieve for herself that immortality as a chronicler which would certainly never have been won by her as a novelist.

But the King did not confine his conversation to the one topic which he knew was of greatest interest to her. He spoke of Mrs. Delany, who had been the means of introducing Fanny to the Royal circle; and he referred to the ill-treatment which he had received at the hands of one of his pages; but this was the only passage that savoured of unkindness, and the chronicler is unable to do more than hope that the conduct of the pages was one of His Majesty's delusions. Then, with what seems to us to be consummate adroitness, he put some questions to her which she could not but answer. “They referred to information given to him in his illness from various motives, but which he suspected to be false, and which I knew he had reason to suspect,” Miss Burney writes. “Yet was it most dangerous to set anything right, as I was not aware what might be the views of their having been stated wrong. I was as discreet as I knew how to be, and I hope I did no mischief: but this was the worst part of the dialogue.”

We can quite believe that it was, and considering that it was the part of the dialogue which was most interesting to the King, we think that Miss Burney was to be congratulated upon the tact she displayed in her answers. She did not cause the King to be more perturbed than he was when waxing indignant over the conduct of his pages; and there was no need for Dr. Willis to interfere at this point, though he did a little later on. Then submitting with the utmost docility to the control of his excellent attendant, and with another exhortation not to pay any attention to the whims of the Schwellenberg, the gracious gentleman kissed her once more on the cheek and allowed her to take her departure.

So ended this remarkable adventure in Kew Gardens. One can picture Fanny Burney flying to tell the Queen all that had occurred—to repeat everything that her discretion permitted her of the conversation; and one has no difficulty in imagining the effect upon Queen Charlotte of all that she narrated; but it seems rather hard that from Mrs. Schwellenberg should have been withheld the excellent advice given by the King to Miss Burney respecting the German virago.

It would have been impossible either for Fanny Burney or the Queen to come to any conclusion from all that happened except one that was entirely satisfactory to both. King George III was undoubtedly on the high road to recovery, and subsequent events confirmed this opinion. It really seemed that the interview with the author of Evelina marked the turning-point in his malady at this time. Every day brought its record of improvement, and within a fortnight the dreaded Regency Bill, which had been sent up to the Lords, was abandoned. On March 1st there were public thanksgivings in all the churches, followed by such an illumination of London as had not been seen since the great fire. The scene at Kew is admirably described by Miss Burney, who had written some congratulatory lines to be offered by the Princess Amelia to the King. A great “transparency” had been painted by the Queen's order, representing the King, Providence, Health, and Britannia—a truly British tableau—and when this was hung out and illuminated the little Princess “went to lead her papa to the front window.” Then she dropped on her knees and gave him the “copy of verses,” with the postscript:

The little bearer begs a kiss

From dear papa for bringing this.

The “dear papa” took his dear child in his arms, and held her close to him for some time. Nothing could have been more charmingly natural and affecting. For such a picture of Royalty at home we are indebted to Fanny Burney, and, face to face with it, we are selfish enough to feel grateful to Dr. Burney for having given his daughter for five years to discharge a humble duty to her Sovereign and an immortal one to her fellow-countrymen, who have read her Diary and placed it on a shelf between Pepys and de Gramont.

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