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hastily to Miss Planta, to announce to the Queen that I was waiting the honour of her Majesty's commands; and then began preparing for my appearance the next morning, when I expected a summons; but Miss Planta came instantly herself from the Queen, with orders of immediate attendance, as her Majesty would see me directly! The King was just gone upon the terrace, but her Majesty did not walk that evening.
Mrs. Agnew was my maid, Miss Planta my arranger; my landlord, who was a hairdresser, came to my head, and M. d'Arblay was general superintendent. The haste and the joy went hand in hand, and I was soon equipped, though shocked at my own precipitance in sending before I was already visible. Who, however, could have expected such prompt admission ? and in an evening?
M. d'Arblay helped to carry the books as far as to the gates. My lodgings were as near to them as possible. At the first entry towards the Queen's lodge we encountered Dr. Fisher and his lady: the sight of me there, in a dress announcing indisputably whither I was hieing, was such an astonishment, that they looked at me rather as a recollected spectre than a renewed acquaintance. When we came to the iron rails poor Miss Planta, in much fidget, begged to take the books from M. d'Arblay, terrified, I imagine, lest French feet should contaminate the gravel within !-while he, innocent of her fears, was insisting upon carrying them as far as to the house, till he saw I took part with Miss Planta, and he was then compelled to let us lug in ten volumes as we could.
The King was already returned from the terrace, the page in waiting told us. “0, then," said Miss Planta, you are too late !” However, I went into
old dining-parlour; while she said she would see if any
one could obtain the Queen's commands for another time. I did not stay five minutes ruminating upon the dinners, “ gone where the chickens," &c., when Miss Planta returned, and told me the Queen would see me instantly
The Queen was in her dressing-room, and with only the Princess Elizabeth. Her reception was the most gracious imaginable; yet, when she saw my emotion in thus meeting her again, she was herself by no means quite unmoved. I presented my little—yet not smalloffering, upon one knee, placing them, as she directed, upon a table by her side, and expressing, as well as I could, my devoted gratitude for her invariable goodness to me. She then began a conversation, in her old style, upon various things and people, with all her former graciousness of manner, which soon, as she perceived my strong sense of her indulgence, grew into even all its former kindness. Particulars I have now no room for ; but when, in about half an hour, she said, “How long do you intend to stay here, Madame d'Arblay?" and I answered, “We have no intentions, ma'am,” she repeated, laughing, “ You have no intentions !--Well, then, if you can come again to-morrow morning, you shall see the Princesses."
She then said she would not detain me at present; and, encouraged by all that had passed, I asked if I might presume to put at the door of the King's apartment a copy of my little work. She hesitated, but with smiles the most propitious; then told me to fetch the books; and whispered something to the Princess Elizabeth, who left the room by another door at the same moment that I retired for the other set.
Almost immediately upon my return to the Queen and
the Princess Elizabeth, the King entered the apartment, and entered it to receive himself my little offering.
“Madame D'Arblay,” said her Majesty, '“ tells me that Mrs. Boscawen is to have the third set; but the first -your Majesty will excuse me—is mine.”
This was not, you will believe, thrown away upon me. The King, smiling, said, “Mrs. Boscawen, I hear, has been very zealous."
I confirmed this, and the Princess Elizabeth eagerly called out, “Yes, Sir! and while Mrs. Boscawen kept a book for Madame d'Arblay, the Duchess of Beaufort kept one for Mrs. Boscawen.”
This led to a little discourse upon the business, in which the King's countenance seemed to speak a benign interest; and the Queen then said,
“This book was begun here, Sir.” Which already I had mentioned. “ And what did
write of it here?" cried he. “ How far did you go?-Did you finish any part? or only form the skeleton ?”
“ Just that, Sir," I answered; “ the skeleton was formed here, but nothing was completed. I worked it up in my little cottage.”
“And about what time did you give to it ?''
“ All my time, Sir; from the period I planned publishing it, 1 devoted myself to it wholly. I had no episode but a little baby. My subject grew upon me, and increased my materials to a bulk that I am afraid will be more laborious to wade through for the reader than for the writer."
“ Are you much frightened ?” cried he, smiling; "as much frightened as you were before ?"
“I have hardly had time to know yet, Sir. I received the fair sheets of the last volume only last night. I have,
therefore, had no leisure for fear.
And sure I am, happen what may to the book from the critics, it can never cause me pain in any proportion with the pleasure and happiness I owe to it.”
I am sure I spoke most sincerely; and he looked: kindly to believe me.
He asked if Mr. Lock had seen it; and, when I said no, seemed comically pleased, as if desirous to have it in its first state. He asked next if Dr. Burney had overlooked it; and, upon the same answer, looked with the same satisfaction. He did not imagine how it would have passed current with my dearest father: he appeared only to be glad it would be a genuine work: but, laughingly, said, “So you kept it quite snug ?”
“Not intentionally, Sir, but from my situation and my haste ; I should else have been very happy to have consulted my father and Mr. Lock; but I had so much, to the last moment, to write, that I literally had not a moment to hear what could be said. The work is longer by the whole fifth volume than I had first planned; and I am almost ashamed to look at its size, and afraid my readers would have been more obliged to me if I had left so much out than for putting so much in."
He laughed; and inquired who corrected my proofs ?
Only myself,” I answered.
“Why, some authors have told me,” cried he, “ that they are the last to do that work for themselves. They know so well by heart what ought to be, that they run on without seeing what is. They have told me, besides, that a mere plodding head is best and surest for that work; and that the livelier the imagination, the less it should be trusted to."
I must not go on thus minutely, or my four parts will be forty. But a full half-hour of graciousness, I could
almost call kindness, was accorded me, though the King came from the concert to grant it; and it broke up by the Queen saying, "I have told Madame d'Arblay that, if she can come again to-morrow, she shall see the Princesses.'
The King bowed gently to my grateful obeisance for this offer, and told me I should not know the Princess Amelia, she was so much grown, adding, " She is taller than you!"
I expressed warmly my delight in the permission of seeing their Royal Highnesses; and their Majesties returned to the concert-room. The Princess Elizabeth stayed, and flew up to me, crying, “ How glad I am to see you here again, my dear Miss Burney!—I beg your pardon, Madame d’Arblay I mean—but I always call all my friends by their maiden names when I first see them after they are married.”
I warmly now opened upon my happiness in this return to all their sights, and the condescension and sweetness with which it was granted me; and confessed I could hardly behave prettily and properly at my first entrance after so long an absence. “O, I assure you I felt for you !" cried she; "I thought you must be agitated; it was so natural to you to come here—to Mamma!”
You will believe, my dearest father, how light-hearted and full of glee I went back to my expecting companion : Miss Planta accompanied me, and stayed the greatest part of the little remaining evening, promising to let me know at what hour I should wait upon their Royal Highnesses.
The next morning, at eight or nine o'clock, my old footman, Moss, came with Mlle. Jacobi's compliments to M. and Madame d’Arblay, and an invitation to dine at the Queen's Lodge.
Miss Planta arrived at ten, with her Majesty's com