Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Re^2: 9 literary New Year’s resolutions


On Sun Jan 1, wombat wrote
>>> It includes this from Fanny Burney*:
>> ‘ . . 4. Go with the flow: “I opened the new year with what
>> composure I could acquire…and I made anew the best resolutions I
>> was equal to forming, that I would do what I could to curb all
>> spirit of repining, and to content myself calmly—unresistingly,
>> at least, with my destiny.”**
>> – In stoic fashion on 1 January 1787, the English satirical
>> novelist resolves to content herself with her destiny. If you’re
>> struggling to retain your composure this January, “be like
>> Burney” and go with the flow . . ‘
> I wonder why the writer chose to quote Fanny Burney? Fanny was
> not giving herself good advice - going with the flow in 1787 was
> nearly the death of her. She and her father were Tories who were
> impressed by her position at court as an assistant dresser to the
> Queen but "after five years slavery...all who saw her pale face,
> her emaciated figure, and her feeble walk, predicted that her
> sufferings would soon be over." (Macaulay). Friends of the
> Burneys agitated to finally get her father to procure her release
> from this soul-deadening, physically and psychologically
> debilitating work. She got free and was "allowed" to being
> writing again.

Yes, poor Fanny.  Unlike Jane Austen, she and her family are
explicitly mentioned in the canon.  From "The Fortune of War":

  ‘I never was a great reader,’ said Jack. His friends looked down
  at their wine and smiled. ‘I mean I never could get along with
  your novels and tales. Admiral Burney – Captain Burney then –
  lent me one wrote by his sister when we were coming back with a
  slow convoy from the West Indies; but I could not get through
  with it – sad stuff, I thought. Though I dare say the fault was
  in me, just as some people cannot relish music; for Burney
  thought the world of it, and he was as fine a seaman as any in
  the service. He sailed with Cook, and you cannot say fairer than

  ‘That is the best qualification for a literary critic I ever
  heard of,’ said Yorke. ‘What was the name of the book?’

  ‘There you have me,’ said Jack. ‘But it was a small book, in
  three volumes, I think; and it was all about love. Every novel I
  have ever looked into is all about love; and I have looked into
  a good many, because Sophie loves them, and I read aloud to her
  while she knits, in the evening. All about love.’

BTW, I read a biography of Fanny Burney a while ago. She was in
France from 1802-1815. When she got back to England, she saw a
plate with a picture of Nelson's head on it together with the word
"Trafalgar" and had to ask what the word meant, so complete had the
news blackout been in France.

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