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La Grippe, a prevailing Disease in France-Apprehensions of War
General Lauriston — War inevitable between England and France M. d'Arblay's prospects in France - His retraite-Madame d’Arblay at Passy-M. d'Arblay receives Civil employ-ment from the French Government-Dr. Burney dines with the Prince of Wales at Lord Melbourne's—Accomplishments of his Royal Highness-Dr. Burney's meeting with Mrs. Piozzi at Bath -Difficulties of Correspondence-Anxiety of Madame d'Arblay respecting her Friends in England - Her desire for a re-unionDr. Burney a corresponding Member of the French Institute Recollections of May-Day-Hopes of Peace Joy of Madamed'Arblay on receiving a Letter from her Father-Her description: of her Son-A delicious Banquet-Madame d'Arblay's fortitude -An Octogenarian Vocalist.
Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.
Passy, March 23, 1803. No, my dearest Padre, bumptious !—no! I deny the charge in toto. I had not such a thought-or rather such a feel in the world ; but ’t was very disencouraging,
Tommy,” to receive none of that coin which urged forth my merchandise !—for I had hoped some return in some of your narratory letters in which I so delight, and which nobody writes in so interesting a manner to my gusto, and which you
used to enliven my retirement with occasionally in our tight little island. However, if it must not be expected, I will make up my mind the best I can to the good of the world, in this public monopolizer of a dictionary,* to which I should feel, I doubt not, less grudge, if it were more in my way.
I have been anxious to write since I received your last kind inquiries, my dearest Padre; but so tedious has been my seizure, that I have not yet got from its wraps or confinements. I feel, however, as if this were their last day, and that to-morrow would have the honour to see me abroad. I have had no fever, and no physician, and no important malady; but cold has fastened upon cold, so as utterly to imprison me.
* Dr. B. was then writing for the · Encyclopædia Britannica.'
La grippe, however, I escaped, so has Alex., and our maid and helpers—and M. d'Arblay, who caught it latterly in his excursions to Paris, had it so slightly, that but for the fright attached to the seizure (which I thought would almost have demolished me at first, from the terror hanging on its very name at that fatal period) I should have deemed it a mere common cold. It is now universally over, but the mischief it has done is grievously irreparable. M. de la Harpe I mourn the most, and much regret never having seen. The Abbé Ricard, who had just published about half his translation of Plutarch, I was also very sorry for. I had dined in his company once, and he was my next neighbour; and so gentle, so quiet, so modest, so reserved, that he appeared an almost singular character in these times. Do you know his poem called La Sphère ? I am really sorry he is gone,-and by an illness so insidious, that appeared to have so little authority for the havoc it made. Madame Trimouille, the lady of the house at Mousseau of which we occupied one pavillon, sank under it also, as did the mother-in-law of B-_'s brother the doctor. It was a disastrous and frightful time. The streets of Paris were said to be as full of funerals as of cabriolets. For my own part, I have not once been able to enter that capital since I left it at the end of October. But I cannot help attributing much of the mortality which prevailed in consequence of this slight disease, to the unwholesome air occasioned by the dreadful want of cleanliness in that city, which, but for the healthiness of the beautiful and delicious walks around it, i. e., Les Boulevards, must surely have proved pestilential. The air of our house at Passy is perfectly pure and sweet.
By never going to Paris, I have never, of course, seen our ambassador or his duchess. The very only thing that I regret not residing in Paris for, is my inability to go to his Excellency's chapel.
I send you a newspaper, to let you see titles can be bestowed here, as well as taken away.
M. d'Arblay is now making a last effort with respect to his retraite, which has languished in adjournment above a year. He has put it into the hands of a faithful and most amiable friend, now in high esteem with the Premier Consul, General Lauriston, who so kindly renewed an ancient friendship with his former camarade when he was on his splendid short embassy in England. If through him it should fail, I shall never think of it more.
To Mrs. Lock.
No. 54, Rue Basse, Passy, near Paris, April 30, 1803.. How to write I know not, at a period so tremendous -nor yet how to be silent. My dearest, dearest friends! if the war indeed prove inevitable, what a heart-breaking position is ours !-to explain it fully would demand folios, and yet be never so well done as you, with a little consideration, can do it for us. Who better than Mr. Lock and his Fredy—who so well can comprehend, that, where one must be sacrificed, the other will be yet more to be pitied ?--I will not go on-I will talk only of you, till our fate must be determined. And M. d'Arblay, who only in the wide world loves his paternal uncle as well (we always except ourselves at Westminster), how tenderly does he
join in my every feeling! and how faithfully keep unimpaired all our best and happiest sympathies !
May 2nd. Better appearances in the political horizon now somewhat recruit my spirits, which have been quite indescribably tortured, rather than sunk, by the impossibility of any private arrangement for our mutual happiness in the dread event of War. God Almighty yet avert it! And should it fall to the lot of Lauriston to confirm the Peace, what a guardian angel upon earth I shall deem him! How I wish he could meet with you! he is so elegant in his manners he would immediately give you pleasure; and his countenance is so true in announcing him amiable, that you might look at him with trust as well as satisfaction.
He fills his very high and powerful post in this country with a modesty and moderation that keep aloof from him all the jealousy, envy, and calumny that usually attend such stations. He receives M. d'Arblay upon exactly the same terms of intimacy, regard, and equality as formerly, and always admits him, be his engagements ever so pressing, be who will present, or be the moment he can accord him ever so short or hurried.
M. de Lally has long been gone to Bordeaux, and with whom should he travel thither but Sir John Coghill! I saw that dear M. de Lally but very seldom, yet I regret his immense distance. My greatest regret is, however, for the Princesse d'Henin, who set off for Bordeaux eight months ago, and is not returned. I have had a charming and most feeling account from her of Madame La Tour du Pin, and her admirable, exemplary manner of passing her time, in the regulation of her family, the education of her