"Alas! what can I do? — I think of her as of one of the first among women — I see her full of talents and of charms — I am willing to believe her good, virtuous, and dignified; — yet, with all this, the cry against her is so violent and so universal, and my belief in her innocence is wholly nnsurported by proof in its favour, or any other argument than internal conviction, from what I observed of her conduct and manners and conversation when I saw her in London, that I know not how to risk a correspondence with her till better able to satisfy others, as well as I am satisfied myself."1
It is a struggle between Fanny's prudery and her inclination to judge for herself. That she is now even less independent than she used to be, is shown by the fact that she consulted the queen in this matter. She was perfectly aware of the change herself:
"It was fearfully that I took this liberty. I dreaded lest she should imagine I meant to put myself under her direction, as if presuming she would be pleased to direct me. Something, I told her, I had to say, by the advice of Mrs. Delany, which I begged her permission to communicate. She assented in silence, but with a look of the utmost softness, and yet mixed with strong surprise. I feit my voice faltering, and I was with difficulty able to go on — so new to me was it to beg to be heard, who, hitherto, have always been begged to speak. There is no absolutely accounting for the forcible emotions which every totally new situation and new effort will excite in a mind enfeebled, like mine, by a long succession of struggling agitations. I got behind her chair, that she might not see a distress she might wonder at: for it was not this application itself that affected me; it was the novelty of my own situation, the new power I was calling forth over my proceedings, and the — O my Susan! — the all that I was changing from — relinquishing
1 Op. cit. Aug. or Sept. 1786.