The Early Diaries of Frances Burney 1768-1778 May 1775 is in The Early Diaries of Frances Burney 1768-1778.
We have had a charming Concert; I am very glad that, after their long cessation, these entertainments are revived amongst us.
The party consisted of the Baron Deiden, the Danish Ambassador and the Baronness his lady, who is a sweet woman, young, pretty, accomplished, and graceful. She is reckoned one of the best lady harpsichord players in Europe. Miss Phipps, whom I have mentioned before. Sir James Lake,56.1 who, as heretofore, was sensible, cold, and reserved. Lady Lake,56.2 who as heretofore was all politeness and sweetness. Miss Lake, sister of Sir James, who is a very obliging and sweet-tempered, oldish maid;56.3 and Sir Thomas Clarges, a young baronet, who was formerly so desperately enamoured of Miss Linley, now Mrs. Sheridan, that his friends made a point of his going abroad to recover himself: he is now just returned from Italy, and I hope cured. He still retains all the school-boy English mauvaise honte [bashfulness]; scarce speaks but to make an answer, and is as shy as if his last residence had been at Eaton instead of Paris.57.1 Mr. Harris, author of the three Treatises on Music, Poetry, and Happiness, of Philosophical Arrangements, Hermes, and several other tracts. He is at the same time learned and polite, intelligent and humble.57.2 Mrs. Harris, his wife, is in nothing extraordinary57.3. Miss Louisa Harris, his second daughter, is a modest, reserved, and sensible girl. She is a singing-scholar of Sacchini's, and has obtained some fame as a lady-singer58.1. Mrs. Ord58.2, a very musical lady and agreeable woman. Miss Ord, a fine girl, but very insipid. Mr. Earl, a very musical gentleman. Mrs. Anguish, a keen, sharp, clever woman. Miss Harrison, daughter of the unfortunate Commodore58.3, a haughty and uninteresting sort of girl. Mr. Merlin, the very ingenious mechanic. He is very diverting also in conversation. There is a singular simplicity in his manners. He speaks his opinion upon all subjects and abcat all persons with the most undisguised freedom. He does not, though a foreigner, want words; but he arranges and pro- nounces them very comically. He is humbly grateful for all civilities that are shown him; but is warmly and honestly resentful for the least slight58.4.
Note 56.1. Sir James Winter Lake (son of Sir Sitwell Lake, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company), and himself a director of " The Million Bank,” had " one of the most extensive and choice collections of English portraits in the kingdom."
Note 56.2. Henrietta Maria, daughter of the first Baron Mulgrave, afterwards married to Charles, eleventh Viscount Dillon [Note. TT. Mistake for 12th Viscount Dillon], was the "amiable and zealous " friend who, gathering from her brother, Captain Phipps, that Dr. Burney had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society without a single black-ball, made it known to him by directing a letter to "Dr. Burney, F.R.S., Queen's Square," before the President, or the friend who had nominated him, had time to forward the news.
Note 56.3. In her letter to Mr. Crisp upon this concert, Fanny says playfully of Miss Lake, that she is a "very agreeable old maid, I respect and admire,—and wish to imitate her."
Note 57.1. Sir Thomas Clarges afterwards married a lady who was beloved by Dr. Burney as resembling his Susan (who was her dear friend) in person, voice, and musical taste and skill; Lady Clarges afterwards, unfortunately, resembled Susan in her delicacy of health and premature death.
Note 57.2. In the letter Mr. Harris is said to be "a charming old man,—well. bred even to humility, gentle in his manners, communicative and agreeable in his conversation.
Note 57.3. Here we raise the pen of protest. This was indeed a hasty judgement, made from the surface. It is heightened in the letter to Mr. Crisp, describing this same evening " Mrs. Harris - a so, so, sort of woman" What! was our witty Mrs. Harris to be made out to be like that gown in which she went to the birthday in 1774-"& decent, plain silk,-no colour—"? Read her, reader. Mortimer Collins made us read her. We quote from his article on "Mrs. Harris": "Mrs. Harris was a person who made her mark in the world. . . . She was a constant correspondent of her son," (the first Lord Malmesbury) " whether he was studying at Oxford or the Hague, or doing diplomacy at Madrid, or Berlin, or St. Petersburg; and her letters are charming for their vivacity, and for the graphic style in which they narrate the events of the day. .... I wonder if any rising politician of the pre- sent day has a mother who can send him such delightful epistles—I greatly doubt it.” Mortimer ends by saying that now "nobody can chronicle the gossip of the day with so playful a pen as Mrs. Harris." She was Elizabeth, daughter, and in the end heiress, of John Clarke, M.P., of Sandford, in Somersetshire, a woman of fashion and esprit, but not wholly like the family whom she thus wittily describes : "They have a good house in Park Place, and are people of this world.” Her letters to her son begin on his going to Oxford in June, 1763, and end in October, 1780, when he represented Great Britain at St. Petersburg. They are not to be found in the Diplomatic Correspondence of the first Lord Malmesbury, but in another collection, that of the Letters of his Family and Friends.
Note 58.1. Fanny says in the letter, " Miss Louisa Harris has a bad figure, and is not handsome.
Note 58.2. Mrs. Ord, Fanny's firm friend in after years, was daughter of an eminent surgeon surnamed Dillingham, or Dellingham; and was, then, a wealthy widow.
Note 58.3. Called "the unfortunate" because, after distinguished service in the East and West Indies, he was stricken with palsy from over-work of mind and body, and lived in a helpless state for twenty years.
Note 58.4. Merlin was a clever but absurd man, a mechanician, always trying new inventions. In her letter Fanny says, " he pronounces English very comically, for though he is never at a loss for a word, he almost always puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable."
Mr. Jones, a Welsh harper, a silly young man, was also present. We had a great deal of conversation in parties, before the Concert began. I had the satisfaction to sit next to Mr. Harris (62), who is very cheerful and communicative, and his conversation was instructive and agreeable58.5. Mr. Jones, the harper, began the Concert. He has a fine instrument of Merlin's construction; he plays with great neatness and delicacy; but as expression must have meaning, he does not abound in that commodity. After him, at the request of the Baronness Deiden, Mr. Burney went to the harpsichord. He played with his usual successful velocity and his usual applause. When he had received the compliments of the nobility and gentry, my father begged the Baronness to take his place; but she would not at first hear of it. She said in French, which she almost always speaks, that it was quite out of the question; and that it would be like a figurante's dancing after Heinel59.1. However, Miss Phipps joined so warmly in my father's request, that she was at length prevailed with. The character she has acquired of being the first of lady harpsichord players, as far as I have heard or can judge, is well merited. She has a great deal of execution and fire, and plays with much meaning. She is, besides, extremely modest and unconscious. She declared she had never been so much frightened before in her life59.2. When she had played a Lesson of Schobert's, my father asked her for another German composition, which he had heard her play at Lord Mulgrave's. She was going very obligingly to comply, when the Baron Deiden, looking at my sister, said, "Mais après, ma chère.” "Eh bien !” cried Miss Phipps, "après Mrs. Burney.”
Note 58.5. James Harris, of Salisbury (62), was nephew to that Earl of Shaftesbury who wrote "The Characteristics." He was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1762; a Lord of the Treasury afterwards. Dr. Johnson said that he was " a sound, solid scholar,” but "a prig, and a bad prig,” and "a coxcomb,” who " did not understand his own system” in his own book, called "Hermes, an inquiry concerning universal grammar.” We here see him in his pleasant, social aspect. Dr. Burney ranks him as a writer on music, in virtue of his three "Treatises on Art, Music, and History,” 1774. When Mr. Harris took his seat in the House of Commons, Charles Townsend said to his next neighbour,—" Who is this man?”—" Who? why Harris that wrote one book about Grammar, and another about Virtue."-" What does he come here for? He will find neither Grammar nor Virtue here."
Note 59.1. Horace Walpole to Lord Strafford, August 25, 1771 : "There is a finer dancer" (than Mlle. Guimard) "whom Mr. Hobart is to transport to London; a Mlle. Heinel or Ingle, a Fleming. She is tall, perfectly made, very handsome, and has a set of attitudes copied from the classics; she moves as gracefully slow as Pygmalion's statue when it was coming to life." She filled a before-deserted Opera House. The manager, Mr. Hobart, paid her six hundred pounds for the season, and the Maccaroni Club" complimented her with a regale of six hundred more.”
Note 59.2. According to Horace Walpole, the Baron and Baroness Deiden were not personce gratis at the Court of St. James; being sent to England after the imprisonment of George III.'s (33) sister, Caroline Matilda, Queen of (20) Denmark. They were moved to the Papal Court, where Miss Berry met them a little later.