Frances [Fanny] Burney

Peter Sabor (ed.), The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney, Vol. 1: 1786

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Novr. 8th.

This was the Birth Day of the Princess Augusta, now 18.—I could not resist this opportunity of presenting her one of my Fairings, though I had some little fear she might think herself past the Age for receiving Birth-Day Gifts, except from the Royal Family: however, they had arrived so seemingly apropos, & had been so much approved by the Queen, that I determined to make the attempt. I took one of the Work Boxes,722 & put with a pencil, round the middle ornament, Est il permis?723 —& then I sent for Miss Makentomb,724 the Princesses' Wardrobe pg 248woman, & begged her to place the Box upon her Royal Highnesses Table.

At the Queen's Dressing Time, as I opened the Door, her Majesty said "O,—here she is!—Est il permis!—come, come in to Augusta.—" & made me follow her into the next Room, the Door of which was open, where the Princess was seated at a Writing Desk. Probably answering some congratulatory Letters.

Immediately, in a manner the most pleasing, she thanked me for the little Cadeau,725 saying—"only one thing I must beg—that you will write the Motto with a Pen.—"

The Queen seconded this motion, smilingly repeating Est il permis.

And afterwards, in the Evening, the Princess Augusta came to the Parlour to fetch Mrs. Delany & Mrs. Smelt, & again said "Now will you, Miss Burney, will you write that for me with a Pen?"—

The King brought in the Princess Amelia during Tea.—"Here, cried he, we shall all be jealous of Miss Burney! Amelia insists upon coming to her again! & says she won't go to Bed if Miss Burney does not take her!—"

The sweet little Girl then called upon me to play with her. I did what was possible to quiet her, but to no purpose. "Come, Miss Burney, she cried, come & sit down with me—sit down, I say!—why won't you sit down?—"—

Nothing can be so pretty as this innocence of her royal station, & her Father's rank: though she gave me a thousand small distresses, I longed to kiss her for every one of them.

Two Days more we still spent,726 thus truly en famille,727 at Kew, in the same way I have already described, & with the same party; & both the Evenings closed with Mr. Smelt & myself Tête à Tête.

This long visit at Kew made me more acquainted with much of the Household than any other mode of life could have done. At Windsor I mix with quite another set. I liked them all passing well, & was pleased to see that they all appeared persons of worth, sense, & cultivation. But my only real satisfaction, except from the arrival of Mrs. Delany, was in the society of Mr. Smelt. That very excellent, very amiable, & most high bred Gentleman shewed a disposition to render our acquaintance more intimate that was extremely flattering to me; his universal courtesy had hitherto forbid my attributing his civilities to any regard, but I now pg 249received them with fuller confidence, as I found in him an encreasing openness in every meeting, & a readiness to bestow his time upon me that made me receive & accept it with very grateful pleasure. His Conversation, when he is wholly easy, is both fanciful & instructive; & his imagination is filled with systems of his own, that make his discussions of almost all subjects both new & enlightening.—What an Acquisition, in a situation so confined, is the power of such frequent intercourse with so amiable, so intelligent, & so useful a Friend.—

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Notes

Editor’s Note
722 A box containing instruments and materials for needlework.
Editor’s Note
723 'Is it permitted?' The inscription recalls a phrase used by Edward Blakeney, an Irishman whom FB met at Brighton in October 1779. In her journal for 29 October 1779, she writes: 'whenever he Drinks a Glass of wine, he never fails to touch either Mrs. Thrale's or my Glass, with 'Est il permis?' (EJL iii. 408).
Editor’s Note
724 Anna Maria Mackenthun (b. 1770), Assistant Dresser to the Princesses. Born in Moorburg, Hamburg, Germany, the daughter of Johann Friedrich Mackenthun and his wife, Anna Maria Luers, she would return to Germany by 1794.
Editor’s Note
725 Gift.
Editor’s Note
726 9 and 10 November.
Editor’s Note
727 as a family.
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