of trifling annoyances and imaginary difficulties, from which two words of candour and common sense would have extricated them. The same error runs through her own memoirs. She represents herself as thrown into confusions, embarrassments, terrors, miseries, and so forth, by the most ordinary occurrences of common life. If she is spoken to, she is in a flutter of modest agitation: if not spoken to, she is still more alarmed at such ominous silence. If complimented, she is inclined to creep under the chair: if not attended to she retreats into indignant seclusion. She is afraid to make tea at an evening party, lest she should appear too obtrusive; and if she does not, she is in still worse agonies, lest she should be thought supercilious."
It is quite possible that Croker could not understand a sensitive nature, such as Fanny Burney's, but it is far more probable that he did not wish to understand it. The review, indeed, gives the impression of a wilful misunderstanding and the story that her embarrassment should be occasioned by the concealment of her age is entirely of Mr. Croker's making.
But Croker has discovered another serious offence:
"the unpardonable breach of confidence, in thus stealthily treasuring up for publication every idle word which was uttered in the unsuspicious freedom of private society. She anticipated in her youth faults that more usually accompany a gossiping 'widowhood'. She was idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but a tatler also, and a busybody, speaking things which she ought not."
Croker has no softer name for this than treachery. This remark "on principle" does not hinder him from regretting that Miss Burney has written so little about the private life of the royal family. This fact is attributed to Miss Burney's subservient position at court, and not to the discretion of one who was daily in attendance on the queen.
A. Napier has pointed out in a note1 to his edition of 1 Boswell's Life of Johnson, edited by Napier, Vol. IV, p. 368.