BURNEY, Frances [Fanny] (1752-1840). Novelist. Married name Fanny D'Arblay.
Fine Autograph Letter Signed (typically unsigned when writing to her brother) to 'my dearest Carlos', 4 pages 4to with integral address, Ilfracombe, 28 August-3 September 1817.
Expressing a desire to go to Westminster Abbey where, her brother had recently told her, a monument had been placed to their father Charles Burney ('... oh how I long to visit Westminster Abbey! yet with how sorrowing a heart shall I behold There the last testimony that can be offered to manes so dear! With me, as Age never lessened affection, so could it but little abate regret. Confidence, indeed, in Life, will not accompany attachment for the old, &, so far, we can never be wholly unprepared for their loss: but expectation of deprivation rather endears those we hold fearfully, than hardens us for separation, where the object is tenderly prized. So I, at least have always found it. ...'); giving a fine description of the decline, with examples, of Ilfracombe where she was staying ('...Ilfracombe is a very mere Summer residence; it is North, & covered with sea breezes, which whistle around one from Morn & Night, & roar out aloud from Night to Morn. There are no Walks for wet weather, either paved, Gravelled, or sandied ...'Tis but t'other day that neither Chaise nor Horses could have been procured here. And all provisions, Lodgings, & coals, were then so cheap, that a whole & large family might live here for less than the simplest single man can live at Paris - in London - or in Bath etc. But the secret of Cheapness was no sooner whispered from Friend & Friend, than it was buzzed in society, & heard by the common swarm, who now seek to Hive themselves here for oeconomy. But the Multitude has warped what the Individuality had enjoyed, & nothing now is marvellous in cheapness, though nothing has attained the excellence appertaining elsewhere to dearness. ...'); explaining that her husband, 'my poor General' is not much benefiting from his visit to Paris ('...The quick re-establishment I had hoped for from change of climate, native air, & original habits & physicians, has been quite disappointed...'); congratulating him on accumulating honours [being references to his appointment to the Herculaneum Committee to examine the unrollings of the Papiridiscovered at Herculaneum and his part in the printing of a facsimile of the Alexandrean manuscript of the Greek scriptures], asking the identity of Mr Hamilton [Lord Elgin's secretary] ('... If He be not some Grecian, or Latian, at least it seemeth to me that my own Brother in being 7th in the committee, is Last & Best ...'); discussing arrangements for the release of her undergraduate son Alexander's legacy [of £99 plus interest]; expressing herself at first startled by a packet from Dr Kaye, fearing that he might have been critical of Alexander's progress, and pleasure at hearing of his family's holiday at Hastings; referring twice playfully to 'Noddle' [Charles Burney's son the Rev Charles Parr Burney, 1785-1864] ('... Poor Noddle! does he give himself these airs because, being deemed the best part about you, he thinks it good fun to be now & then the worst? - Methinks I see the swelling of a Rival at these 2 words best part, throbbing out "What, then, am I? I, that account myself Chief of the Composition? ...'); giving personal and local news and making fun about his being Prebend of Lincoln ('... adio, my dear Prebend - you don't tell me whether I should Prebendize my direction [the address]. I would not disally you with your Church, though you always disally me with my Husband. God bless you, dear Carlos. Till you are a B[isho]p I shall give you my blessing & then You must pat my head ... Yet I shall bless You still ...'),
Address panel 'To the Revd. Dr. Burney, Prebend of Lincoln, Rectory House, Deptford, Kent', stamped and manuscript postal markings, traces of red seal, one small hole.
Fanny Burney was very close to her family and her sense of grief at her brother Charles's death from a stroke four months after writing this letter and her husband's death five months later made her inconsolable. Her son Alexander was to pre-decease her in 1837.
It was at Ilfracombe that Fanny, aged 65, had the terrifying experience of being cut off by the tide when she was exploring a cave, which she wrote up in 1823 as 'Adventures at Ilfracombe'. Here too she began the project of working on her father's papers.
Charles Burney (1757-1817), Fanny's brother, despite a disastrous start as a book thief at Cambridge, became a schoolmaster, an acclaimed Greek and Latin scholar and book collector. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor of Ancient Literature at the Royal Academy and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Like his father a monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey. In 1818 the House of Commons granted £13,500 to the trustees of the British Museum to purchase his library.
See Letters and Journals, vol. X, 1982, pages 641-646.
The principal image is of the first page only.
The image links to a larger or more detailed version.