1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

Frances Burney, 1791; Diary and Letters of the Author of Madam D'Arblay, ed. Austin Dobson (1904-05) 5:39-40.



November. — I spent one evening with Mrs. Ord, and met our Esther, and heard sweet music from her sweet soul-touching finger. The respectable Mrs. Bateman was there also, and we had much Windsor chattery. Miss Merry, too, was of the party; she is the sister of the "Liberty" Mr. Merry, who wrote the ode for our revolution club, and various other things; and a tragedy called "Lorenzo," in which Miss Brunton performed his heroine so highly to his satisfaction, that he made his addresses to her, and forthwith married her.

The sister and her aunt, with whom she lives, were much hurt by this alliance; and especially by his continuing his wife on the stage, and with their own name. She remonstrated against this indelicacy; but he answered her, she ought to be proud he had brought a woman of such virtue and talents into the family. Her virtue, his marrying her proved; and her talents would all be thrown away by taking her off the stage.

Miss Merry seems past thirty, plain, but sensible in her face, and very much the gentlewoman in her manners, with a figure remarkably good and well made. She sat next me, and talked to me a great deal. She extremely surprised me by entering speedily into French affairs, which I would not have touched upon for the world, her brother's principles being notorious. However, she eagerly gave me to understand her own were the reverse: she spoke of Mr. Burke's pamphlets with the highest praise; the first of them, she said, though eloquently written, could only soothe those who already felt with him; but the appeal to the New Whigs she considered as framed to make converts of whoever was unprejudiced. Perhaps she is one of the number herself. She inveighed against the cruelties of the let-loose mob of France, and told me some scenes that had lately passed in Avignon, that were so terrible I excused myself from dwelling on the subject.