A Cross-Channel Marriage in Limbo: Alexandre d’Arblay, Frances Burney, and the Risks of Revolutionary Migration

This post is a part of the 2020 Selected Papers of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, which were edited and compiled by members of the CRE’s board alongside editors at Age of Revolutions.

By Kelly Summers

In late 1801, as the prospect of a truce between Britain and France raised the hopes of émigrés throughout the French Revolutionary diaspora, Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Piochard d’Arblay took a momentous gamble. After a decade abroad, he crossed the English Channel in the hopes of resurrecting his military career back home. It all went spectacularly wrong, and he, his wife—the English writer Frances Burney—and their son found themselves stranded in Napoleonic France after the collapse of the Peace of Amiens in 1803. Then as now, d’Arblay usually warrants mention as General Lafayette’s aide-de-camp or Burney’s trusted scribe.[1] His status as an émigré had a undeniable impact on his famous wife’s later life and work, but d’Arblay’s fraught homecoming also provides a revealing window into the messy return and reintegration of those who left France during the Revolution. Their mass re-migration has been largely neglected in the otherwise flourishing field of émigré studies.[2] What is more, as committed partners pursuing a new form of marriage—one based on affection and intellect rather than property or parentage—d’Arblay and Burney were forced to tackle the perils of bi-national marriage in the dawning age of nationalism and total war. While navigating competing loyalties and tenuous finances, the fate of their family hinged on contingencies like the Brumaire coup d’état; partisan patronage networks; and the proliferating demands of revolutionary bureaucracy and the Napoleonic “security state.”[3] The Burney-d’Arblays’ recurrent reunions and separations offer firsthand insight into the dizzying upheavals of the 1790s and the complexities of political reconciliation that followed. 

Burney and d’Arblay crossed paths in early 1793 at Juniper Hall, the drafty Surrey inn that Germaine de Staël repurposed as a refuge for the liberal émigré community in England.[4] The forty-one-year-old Burney had by this point published two acclaimed novels—Evelina in 1778 and Cecilia in 1782—and spent five tedious years at court as the keeper of Queen Charlotte’s robes. Strictly conventional in all things but her so-called “writing passion”[5] and her eventual choice of husband, she was captivated by the cosmopolitan set at Juniper Hall. The French refugees who gathered there after the Republic was proclaimed in 1792 had little in common with the reactionary wave of ultra-royalists who began emigrating after the fall of the Bastille in 1789. The largely aristocratic “Constitutionalists”—so-called because of their support for the short-lived constitutional monarchy established in 1791—included Monarchien deputies like Malouet and Lally-Tolendal,[6] as well as the Comte de Narbonne, recently ousted as Minister of War, and the ex-bishop Talleyrand, who over the next quarter century would flit deftly between countries of refuge and choice political posts back in France. In general, Burney subscribed to the Burkean view that, whatever their noble intentions in supporting the early Revolution, the Constitutionalists were the “authors and originators of all the misfortunes of France” that followed. When the news of Louis XVI’s execution reached Surrey, however, Burney was so moved by the group’s shock and grief that she defended their “guiltless Birth in that guilty Country.”[7] In fact, she developed such affection and respect for the exiles that she was soon “exposing [her]self to the wrath of John Bull when[ever] the coterie c[a]me into [contention].”[8]

Burney was particularly taken with one member of the émigré colony: the ci-devant Comte d’Arblay, whose constitutionalist sensibilities disqualified him from service in the ultra-royalist émigré armies then congregating along the Rhine.[9] An urbane captain in the Old Regime army, he had served in the Parisian National Guard from September 1789 and then as Lafayette’s adjutant-general in the Army of the North. The two friends had been on duty at the Tuileries on the fateful night in June 1791 when the royal family was seized en route to France’s eastern frontier, and they both deserted in August 1792 after being proscribed by the Jacobins back in Paris.[10] D’Arblay headed north on 16 August. Three days later, Lafayette and twenty-plus members of his general staff fled east, where they were recognized and arrested near Rochefort,[11] their claim to noncombatant status and the right to transit tersely denied.[12] Lafayette spent the years that followed in an Austrian prison, while d’Arblay made his way to Juniper Hall. He and Burney began exchanging language lessons, which she described as not only mutually edifying but “more entertaining than can easily be conceived.”[13] They were discussing marriage within a matter of months. Like each of the 130 000-or-so French men and women who ended up on the General List of Émigrés, however, d’Arblay had been condemned to civil death, deprived of his property, and banished in perpetuity. As per the sprawling émigré code enacted by the National Convention in the spring of 1793, absentees caught back in France were treated as traitors, regardless of the circumstances of their emigration, and were accordingly denied the right to either trial by jury or appeal. Whether relegated to military tribunals as armed “rebels” or criminal courts as unarmed “deserters,” they were to be executed within twenty-four hours.[14] D’Arblay, in other words, was hardly a catch. As one of Burney’s acquaintances sniffed, “Should [one] not have formed a better opinion of the author of Cecilia?[15] But when it came to d’Arblay, Burney proved able to withstand the disapproval of not only society at large, but her domineering father. In July 1793, she married the penniless, Catholic Frenchman of her dreams, and they welcomed a son, Alexander, the following year.[16]

At a time when companionate marriage was not yet the norm, Burney found in d’Arblay the sort of ideal partner sought by the protagonists of her sentimental novels, and denied, with tragic consequences, to her long-suffering sister Susan.[17] Their union proved famously happy, and it spurred the most creative period in Burney’s career. Between 1793-1801, she was the family’s breadwinner, churning out several comedies and a bestselling novel, the proceeds from which built “Camilla cottage,” so called after the book’s eponymous heroineIn 1793, the same year the moralist Hannah More and poet-novelist Charlotte Smith (whose daughter married an émigré) took up their pens on behalf of the refugees flooding across the English Channel,[18] Burney wrote a charitable appeal entitled Brief Reflections Relative to the Emigrant French Clergy. This marked her first and only overt foray into politics, the audacity of which she couched behind a subtitle appealing to “the Humane Consideration of the Ladies of Great Britain.” Demure packaging aside, the pamphlet anticipates in important ways arguments developed by the less reticent Staël in Reflections on Peace (1795).Both women chipped away at the revolutionaries’ one-size-catch-all definition of emigration as treason by distinguishing between voluntary émigrés and involuntary refugees based on the intent behind and timing of their departures, as well as the nature of their activities abroad. Keen to justify her own flight from Paris, Staël identified the overthrow of the monarchy and September Massacres in 1792 as the crucial juncture after which emigration became an act of self-defense, rather than a short-sighted and traitorous “act of party.”[19] Eager to revert to fiction, Burney also drew on her interactions with d’Arblay and his fellow émigrés to sketch out the storyline of what would become The Wanderer, an epic novel about an ill-treated, mysterious woman fleeing France at the height of the Terror.[20]

Content as their domestic life proved, the Burney-d’Arblays found themselves perpetually strapped for funds. As an enemy alien, d’Arblay struggled to contribute to the family’s bottom line; this stress was exacerbated when a long-awaited inheritance was confiscated on account of his émigré status.[21] But in the fall of 1799, dramatic change was once again afoot in Paris, this time engineered by General Bonaparte and his fellow Brumaire conspirators. The French diaspora had been disappointed by previous regime changes: the Thermidorians’ much-vaunted “thaw” had not extended to emigration policy, and the Fructidorian coup in September 1797 forced some premature returnees to flee again.[22] But in the wake of the Brumaire coup d’état, homesick French like d’Arblay had little choice but to put their hopes in the ambitious Corsican, who pledged to complete the Revolution and reconcile France’s divided populace once and for all. Indeed, emigration reform was at the top of Bonaparte’s agenda, since he realized that the repatriation of most émigrés would create a pool of probationary citizens indebted to his indulgence. He thus welcomed the prospect of a mass return, provided it exclude “bad citizens”[23] who had irrevocably “divorced themselves from the country”[24] by taking up arms against it—which d’Arblay had never technically done. (An early offer to help protect England from a French invasion had been rebuffed, a fact he prudently did not raise in his correspondence with revolutionary authorities.) Initially, Bonaparte set about streamlining existing procedures whereby individuals could petition for cancellation from the General List, a process known as radiation. The system was so inefficient and corrupt, however, that he soon began toying with the idea of an amnesty that would clear most of the names remaining on the books. By identifying categories of émigré who were worthy of clemency, Consular reforms were indebted in some ways to criteria Burney and Staël had proffered back in 1793 and 1795, respectively, and ended up restoring some of the targeted exemptions with which the early Directory had briefly experimented.[25]

In November 1800, d’Arblay was ecstatic to learn his name had been removed from the General List the previous April. In the post-Terror Republic, the administrators taxed with applying revolutionary émigré policy increasingly conceded that it failed to distinguish between active threats to the new nation, passive dissidents, and refugees from the Revolution’s excesses. As a result, the radiation process had devolved into a mutually agreed-upon ruse in which low-risk petitioners claimed to have never left France, and officials pretended to believe them. Meanwhile, absentees who conceded they had left cast themselves as refugees forced to flee for their lives rather than émigrés who had willfully deserted their nation in its time of need. It is unclear on what grounds, exactly, d’Arblay was cleared. As noted by Lucie de La Tour du Pin, the Commission des émigrés tended to be quite accommodating, provided one dropped the right names and did not arrive “empty-handed.”[26] But d’Arblay was not rich; nor was he as politically astute as friends like Narbonne, who tapped Talleyrand and Fouché to get his own name off the list.[27] He likely benefited from his association with Lafayette, who had returned to France under a fake passport just before the 18th Brumaire coup, but had only been officially removed from the List in March 1800, along with members of his general staff and émigrés who had served in the National Assembly in 1789.[28] However reduced his circumstances, d’Arblay never lacked for friends in high places. He was removed from the list of proscribed émigrés about six weeks after Lafayette was, and two years before the General Amnesty of 1802 vacated most of the remaining names from its rolls. 

When cleared at last from the so-called “fatal list” in 1800, d’Arblay was free to go home without fear of persecution—or rather, he would have been able to go home, but for his chosen country of asylum, which was still at war with France. Bonaparte needed to deliver both emigration reform and peace should the French who had settled in enemy countries be able to return to their homeland. D’Arblay was thus thrilled to learn Bonaparte had entrusted one of his old comrades, the now-General Lauriston, with peace negotiations in London in the fall of 1801.[29] The pieces seemed finally to be falling into place.

What did Burney make of these developments? When a preliminary peace agreement was reached on 1 October 1801, the news inspired intense “hopes [and] happiness” in her binational family. She noted that “M. d’Arblay [was] almost in Heaven…[at the] prospect of visiting his paternal soil,” which she felt obliged to support because of “his extreme…forbearance in not breaking into [her happiness] by going over during the War.”[30] But the logistical headaches involved in cross-Channel travel and the possibility of further political upheaval loomed large in Burney’s risk-averse mind. She took comfort in the thought that d’Arblay’s family reunion-cum-retirement tour would be relatively brief—a year to eighteen months, at most—after which they would return to their “little Hermitage, [and] Great Book Room[, where he would be] completely happy.”[31]

During the preliminary peace in late 1801, d’Arblay scrambled to secure his family the necessary passports in London. But when his son fell ill, he decided to make a quick solo trip across the Channel to reconnect with relatives and claim his pension for serving Louis XVI before and during the early years of the Revolution. Cleared of his émigré status, d’Arblay needed to amend his military record, making the case that he should be treated not as a deserter, but an officially discharged—and thus pensionable—veteran. But even so, according to the Ministry of War, he fell just shy of the 25-year service benchmark needed to qualify for a full pension,[32] and was told he would have to complete one final tour of duty. When Burney welcomed him back to England in January 1802, she was distressed to learn the now middle-aged and out-of-practice soldier would be deployed to Saint-Domingue as part of the campaign to reinstate metropolitan authority—and, it soon became clear, the institution of slavery—in France’s Caribbean colonies.[33] General Leclerc’s mission was not only dangerous,[34] but morally suspect to abolitionists like Burney. As d’Arblay made the necessary expenditures to equip himself for battle, blowing a hundred louis the family could not spare on gear, she set aside any qualms she may have had about Napoleon’s true intentions, assuring a friend that the mission was aimed solely at “restor[ing] order in the…colonies.”[35] On one principle, however, the couple refused to bend: their shared devotion to their homelands, which put d’Arblay in an untenable position as he prepared to re-enlist for France. 

Ultimately, d’Arblay’s conflicting loyalties combined with his political naivety to derail his deployment. Before leaving England in early 1802, he wrote directly to Bonaparte to relay his appreciation for the opportunity to serve the Republic, before adding a deal-breaking stipulation: he refused to take up arms against the country that had “nourished” his family through nine years of exile.[36] Burney proudly relayed as much to her former patroness, Queen Charlotte.[37]As if their two homelands were not bitter rivals embroiled in a new type of total war, the ingenuous couple seemed to expect d’Arblay could somehow satisfy both the “military spirit of Honour…born [and] bred in him” to serve his own country when called upon, and his allegiance to his land of refuge. It was true that Bonaparte was eager to “rally to his person all the men who had shown some talent during various phases of the Revolution,”[38] regardless of their political leanings or emigration status—but only provided they pledge unwavering fealty to his regime. As one of Bonaparte’s deputies pointed out, whatever happened in Saint-Domingue, it was abundantly clear that France and Britain would at some point soon resume their imperial collision course in the Caribbean. The Minister of War thus communicated his “regrets that d’Arblay’s political position precludes military Employment.”[39] In a follow-up exchange with Lafayette—who since his return was “living in the countryside, not at all in favor, but not at all persecuted” provided he remain strictly apolitical[40]—the First Consul referred to d’Arblay as “the husband of Cecilia,”[41] the protagonist of one of Burney’s bestsellers. The moniker was no compliment, given Bonaparte’s views about gender roles and his looming showdown with d’Arblay’s and Burney’s one-time matchmaker, the indomitable Staël. 

When d’Arblay arrived back in Paris, all suited up and ready to ship out, he learned his commission had been terminated. His dogged attempts to revoke the decision came to nil.[42] Underscoring d’Arblay’s “disgrace”[43] was the fact that many in his former circles, including one-time underlings, Juniper Hall alumni, and Lafayette’s “companions in flight,” were rapidly ascending the Consular hierarchy.[44] To make matters worse, the type of passport d’Arblay had received to leave England forbade his return for at least a year.[45] It was this unexpected “probation” that necessitated Burney’s own trip to France to reunite her family.[46]

Burney’s voyage occurred just as Bonaparte engineered a series of grand unifying maneuvers that laid the groundwork for his appointment as Consul-for-Life in August 1802. The Treaty of Amiens officially took effect on 25 March. A few weeks later, Burney left for Paris with her six-year-old son and the half-finished manuscript of The Wanderer.[47] They passed through Amiens itself on Easter Sunday (18 April 1802), as the Concordat with Rome was proclaimed in churches across the country.[48] On 26 April, the final component of Bonaparte’s “conciliatory trifecta”[49] was accomplished when he enacted a General Amnesty for all but a thousand of the most intransigent ultra-royalist émigrés, who stayed abroad until the Restoration. With Bonaparte the peacemaker everywhere ascendant, little could the Burney-d’Arblays know the Amiens truce would collapse in just fourteen months’ time.

Money continued to be a concern. In France, the couple could no longer count on Burney’s royalties and modest court pension as their primary means of income. Intercessions by powerful friends—Talleyrand, Narbonne, Berthier, even a face-to-face meeting between Lafayette and Bonaparte—failed to secure an active-duty commission for d’Arblay.[50]But such connections did seem to hasten the resolution of his pension dispute, which hinged on how different phases of his career were categorized (active service received double credit in the calculation of retirement benefits).[51] In April 1803, d’Arblay learned he had finally been granted an official discharge, on the basis of a re-tabulated twenty-six years, five months and thirteen days of service, which meant he was eligible for a pension of 1500 francs per annum.[52] This provided a basic level of security, but the family nonetheless had to seek out cheaper lodgings in Monceau and then Passy, where one visitor described them as “very poor, [and] keeping but one maid.”[53] Their social world shrank to include similarly diminished friends who either refused to court Napoleon’s favor or had for various reasons been denied it. 

The peace struck at Amiens was an uneasy one. In May of 1803, the couple responded with the “greatest agitation” to news that the British ambassador had left Paris, which a visitor attributed to the fact that they were “so aligned…to both countries that to separate from either [would be] ruin and to hold both[,] impossible.”[54] Burney expressed her despair in a letter to a friend back home: “War…seems inevitable, [and] my grief—I, who feel myself now of Two Countries—is far greater than I can wish to express.”[55] To make matters worse, when the war resumed as feared, Burney’s robust correspondence network was one of its first casualties. Her letters had long proven a rich source of writing material, feedback, and moral support,[56] and as her time in France dragged on, she lamented that her “epistolary spirit” had “flown.”[57] Cut off from family news, the d’Arblays were kept equally ignorant of the course of the war by Napoleon’s censors. Amazingly, they did not learn about the French navy’s spectacular defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar until Burney’s return to England seven years after the fact![58] In 1805, the family moved back to Paris proper when d’Arblay accepted a humble clerkship at the Ministry of the Interior,[59] where he stayed on, pushing papers and poorly paid, until the Restoration.

After a decade in exilic limbo, Burney was desperate to get home: to see her ailing father, deliver her son from conscription into Napoleon’s Russian campaign, and finally publish the unwieldy book she had been working on, in fits and starts, since the late l790s. Going back to England meant leaving behind her husband, who was tied to his desk job in Paris, at a time when their countries were at war and their prospects of a reunion uncertain. In 1812, she secured passage on an America-bound vessel that illicitly deposited her and her son in England.[60] Back home at last, she was presented to members of the French royal family in exile, who overlooked her husband’s constitutionalist past to laud her as “[their] Madame de Staël.”[61] She also oversaw the publication of The Wanderer, a novel about emigration in which leading Burney scholars have read the “wanderings of its heroine Juliet…as an allegory of M. d’Arblay’s exile in England.”[62]Beyond its subject matter, the book was itself an artefact of the twenty cumulative years that she and her husband had spent living on both sides of the Channel. As Burney notes in its preface, the work had “twice traversed the ocean in manuscript”[63] form and survived near-impoundment by a zealous customs official at Dunkirk. 

After attending to her father in his final days and enrolling her son at Cambridge, Burney returned to France in late 1814, when the Restoration government offered d’Arblay a position in the King’s Guard. He remained loyal to Louis XVIII during the Hundred Days, when Burney fled Paris for Brussels. In the wake of Waterloo, she dramatically extracted her injured husband from a military hospital near Trèves, after which the couple retired once and for all to England.[64]Rewarded at last with a position worthy of his military pedigree and ambition, Lieutenant-General d’Arblay died near Bath in 1818.[65] Burney outlived him by twenty-two years.

Much remains to be told about this saga, especially from Burney’s perspective.[66] In the space allotted here, it suffices to note that her decision to follow d’Arblay to Paris in 1802 disrupted her personal and professional lives in profound ways. The Amiens truce opened with the terrifying prospect that her husband would be sent to Saint-Domingue to earn his pension; it then induced her reluctant relocation to a foreign country that was sliding toward military dictatorship; and its collapse trapped her for a decade in Napoleonic France, in conditions that were hardly conducive to literary output, at what should have been the peak of her career. The uncertainties of exile became a “constant worm that [ate her]…peace of mind.”[67] As a result, the novel that Burney alternately tinkered with and set aside during her decade in France bears the marks of isolation, aimlessness, and fear of Napoleonic retribution. Meandering as it sometimes reads, The Wanderer stands as a firsthand testament to the high-stakes political posturing, bureaucratic absurdities, and psychological traumas that were part and parcel of migration during the revolutionary era.

The penultimate chapter of the emigration, which saw the vast majority of émigrés back in France by 1802, is still in the process of being written.[68] This chaotic but remarkable “great return” distinguished re-migrants like d’Arblay from their exilic peers, the Huguenots, Jacobites, and American Loyalists who by and large settled permanently abroad.[69] For émigrés trying to adhere to the law, peace was a necessary but insufficient condition of return; it had to go hand-in-hand with emigration reform, whether that took the form of loosened radiation requirements or a broad amnesty. D’Arblay’s marriage further complicated the reintegration process. The couple’s transnational entanglements proved both a boon and a burden, necessitating a series of risky Channel crossings at a time of geo-political precarity and rising nationalism. Their dual allegiance to their respective lands of birth and refuge exposed them to extra surveillance in both countries. Premature returns could be fatal for those whose renunciation of France was cemented by a foreign marriage. The Burney-d’Arblays were likely familiar with the fate of Jean-François Capot de Feuillide, who left his English wife (Jane Austen’s cousin) to recover property back in France and was guillotined in March 1794.[70] But binational bonds could equally prove protective. While marooned in France, for example, Burney avoided the fate of Britons like Maria Edgeworth’s brother, who after the peace collapsed in 1803 spent six years imprisoned at Verdun;[71] and d’Arblay was spared Talleyrand’s ignominious ejection from Britain as an enemy alien in 1794. 

If the couple avoided prison or the guillotine, however, the cross-Channel allegiances engendered by exile compromised d’Arblay’s ability to capitalize on the asset most likely to secure not only permission to return, but a respectable profession back home: his military skills. Provided they had not played prominent leadership roles in the armed emigration, soldiers who wished to return were generally welcomed—but only if they agreed to serve revolutionary France with no strings attached. Thanks to some combination of name recognition and slack enforcement, d’Arblay was able to secure his removal from the General List and call in enough favors from friends who had ingratiated themselves with the new regime to secure a modest pension. But his abiding respect for his British wife and host nation rendered him unfit for the Napoleonic career relaunch he so earnestly desired. Ultimately, the ability of the Burney-d’Arblays to travel freely and support themselves—she by her pen, he by his sword—was determined as much by the vagaries of French emigration policy and the course of the revolutionary wars between their two countries as by their deeply held bi-national loyalties.

Kelly Summers is an assistant professor of history at MacEwan University. She specializes in the history of Old Regime and revolutionary France. She is particularly interested in the relationship between Enlightenment ideas and the outbreak and course of the French Revolution. Her current research examines the conflict between individual liberty and national security during times of political upheaval; how revolutions end; and how, in their aftermath, divided populations might be reconciled.

Title Image: Carle Vernet, Arrival of Emigres with the Duchess of Berry on the French Coast, 1790s.


[1] D’Arblay’s contributions as Burney’s editor, sounding board, and translator went beyond mere transcription, though his revisions were not always well taken. He was also an amateur poet and essayist in his own right. See Peter Sabor, “‘Altered, improved, copied, abridged’: Alexandre d’Arblay’s Revisions to Burney’s Edwy and Elgiva,” Lumen, 14 (1995), 127–137.

[2] Émigré scholarship has thus far tended to focus on who left, why, what they did abroad, and how their estranged homeland and the countries that hosted them responded. Notable contributions include Donald Greer, The Incidence of the Emigration during the French Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951); Kirsty Carpenter and Philip Mansel (eds.), The French Émigrés in Europe and the Struggle against Revolution (London: Macmillan, 1999); Carpenter, Refugees of the French Revolution: The Émigrés in London, 1792-1802 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999); Ladan Boroumand, “Emigration and the Rights of Man: French Revolutionary Legislators Equivocate,” trans. Lydia G. Cochrane, Journal of Modern History 72 (March 2000): 67-108; R. Darrell Meadows, “Engineering Exiles: Social Networks and the French Atlantic Community, 1789-1809,” French Historical Studies 23.1 (2000): 76-102; Karine Rance, “L’historiographie de l’émigration,” in Les noblesses françaises dans l’Europe de la Révolution, ed. Philippe Bourdin (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010), 355-368; Carpenter, “Emigration in Politics and Imaginations,” in The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution, ed. David Andress, 330-345 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Juliette Reboul, French Emigration to Great Britain in Response to the French Revolution (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Friedemann Pestel, “French Revolution and Migration after 1789,” European History Online, Leibniz Institute of European History (2017), http://www.ieg-ego.eu/pestelf-2017-en; and Laure Philip and Juliette Reboul (eds.), French Emigrants in Revolutionised Europe: Connected Histories and Memories (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019).

[3] Howard Brown describes the Consulate’s “modern security state” as “one whose legitimacy derived above all from restoring and preserving order” after a decade of political volatility. Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon(Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006), 358. 

[4] See Linda Kelly, Juniper Hall: An English Refuge from the French Revolution (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991).

[5] Frances Burney, Memoirs of Doctor Burney, Vol. II (London: E. Moxon, 1832), 125.

[6] Friedemann Pestel, “Monarchiens et monarchie en exil: conjonctures de la monarchie dans l’émigration française, 1792‒1799,” Annales historiques de la Révolution française 382 (Oct.-Dec. 2015): 3-6.

[7] Frances Burney [hereafter FB] to Dr. Burney, 28 Jan. 1793, Letter 152 in Journals and Letters [hereafter J&L]eds. Peter Sabor and Lars E. Troide (London: Penguin Classics, 2001), 354-5.

[8] FB to Frederica Lock, 16 Feb. 1793, Letter 153b in J&L, 356.

[9] See Frederic d’Agay, “A European Destiny: the Armée de Condé, 1792-1801,” in The French Émigrés in Europe and the Struggle against Revolution, 1791-1814, eds. Kirsty Carpenter and Philip Mansel (London: MacMillan, 1999): 28-42.

[10] D’Arblay had been pegged for promotion to maréchal de camp in late July 1792, but emigrated on August 16 and then resigned on 1 September, before he officially received the commission. See “Appendix: M. d’Arblay’s Military Career, 2 October 1801-2 May 1803” [hereafter “Appendix”] in The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame d’Arblay) [hereafter J&LFB]vol. V, eds. Joyce Hemlow et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 450-467; Georges Six, Dictionnaire Biographique des généraux et amiraux français de le revolution et de l’empire, 1792-1814, vol. II (Paris: Librairie Historique et Nobiliaire, 1934), 29; and Paul S. Spalding, Lafayette: Prisoner of State (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), 6-7. 

[11] Six, Dictionnaire Biographique, vol. II, 29.

[12] Laura Auricchio, The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered (New York: Knopf, 2014), 265-266; Spalding, Prisoner of State, 1 and 6.

[13] FB to Frederica Lock, 16 Feb. 1793, Letter 153 in J&L, 355.

[14] Boroumand, “Emigration and the Rights of Man,” 68, 79, 93-95. 

[15] Lady Stanley of Alderley, The Girlhood of Maria Josepha Holroyd, 2nd ed. (1897), 229-30; as cited by Austin Dobson (ed.), Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay, 1778-1840, 6 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1904-5), 182.

[16] D.D. Devlin, The Novels and Journals of Fanny Burney (New York: St. Martin’s, 1987), 7.

[17] Kevin Jordan, “Men of Feeling: From Alexandre d’Arblay’s Strength to Harleigh’s Weakness,” in A Celebration of Frances Burney, ed. Lorna J. Clark (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), 78; Kate Chisholm, “The Burney Family,” in The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney, ed. Peter Sabor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 19. 

[18] Sarah M. Zimmerman, Romanticism, Lyricism, and History (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 58-60. 

[19] Staël refined the distinction between émigrés who opted to leave to protect archaic privileges and those who were forced to do so by a negligent state in her Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution: Newly Revised Translation of the 1818 English Edition, intro. and trans. by Aurelian Criautu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008), 285. See also Kelly Summers, “The Great Return: Reintegrating Émigrés in Revolutionary France, 1789-1802” (PhD diss., Stanford University, 2015), 89 and 189, http://purl.stanford.edu/qw295hf2062; Paul Gauthier, “Le Premier Exil de Mme de Staël,” Revue des deux mondes (1906), 898-923; Sylvie Aprile, Le Siècle des exilés: Bannis et proscrits de 1789 à la Commune (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2010), 50; and J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1958), 161.

[20] Frances Burney, The Wanderer; or, Female Difficulties, eds. Margaret Anne Doody, Robert L. Mack, and Peter Sabor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).

[21] Claire Harman, Fanny Burney: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 267. 

[22] Greer, Incidence of the Emigration, 105.

[23] Louis Madelin, Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire, vol. 1 (Paris: Hachette, 1937), 301.

[24] Marc-Antoine Jullien, Entretien politique sur la situation actuelle de la France (Paris: Léger, 1799), 71-72; as cited by Patrice Gueniffey, Bonaparte, trans. Steven Rendall (London: Belknap Press, 2015)660, 914n.12.

[25] For more on the Directory’s short-lived attempt to distinguish between active counter-revolutionaries and involuntary refugees, see Howard Brown, “Mythes et massacres: reconsidérer la ‘terreur directoriale’,” Annales historiques de la Révolution française 325 (2001): 23-52.

[26] Lucie de La Tour du Pin, Memoirs: Laughing and Dancing Our Way to the Precipice, ed. Felice Harcourt (London: Harvill, 1999), 344.

[27] D’A to FB, 12 Nov. 1801, Letter 446 in J&LFB, vol. V, 48-49, n.10.

[28] Harlow Giles Unger, Lafayette (Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2002), 328.

[29] Harman, Fanny Burney, 277.

[30] FB to Esther Burney, 12 Oct. 1801, Letter 424 in J&LFB, vol. V, 3.

[31] FB to Doctor Burney, 3 Oct. 1801, Letter 423 in J&LFB, vol. V, 2.

[32] In a January 1802 letter to Berthier, d’Arblay claimed thirty-one years of total service, twenty-five of which were active. See Item 9 in “Appendix,” J&LFB, vol. V, 458-9, as well as d’Arblay [hereafter d’A] to FB, 10 Jan. 1802, Letter 468 in J&LFB, vol. V, 121-2.

[33] Despite Napoleon’s pledge in 1801 that “the French nation [would] never place chains on men it ha[d] recognized as free” when the National Convention abolished human bondage in 1794, he reinstated slavery throughout the French empire with the law of 30 Floréal Year X (20 May 1802). See Pierre Branda and Thierry Lentz, Napoléon, l’esclavage et les colonies (Paris: Fayard, 2006), as well as the “Colonial Ambitions” documents in Rafe Blaufarb’s Napoleon: A Symbol of an Age (Boston: Bedford, 2008), esp. 162.

[34] Burney’s fears proved well-founded. Mortality rates for French troops deployed to Saint Domingue would exceed 80%. Philippe Girard, “‘Liberté, Égalité, Esclavage:’ French Revolutionary Ideals and the Failure of the Leclerc Expedition to Saint-Domingue,” French Colonial History 6 (2005), 56.

[35] FB to Margaret Planta, Feb. 1802, Letter 479 in J&LFB, vol. V, 146.

[36] D’A to Napoleon Bonaparte, 10 Feb. 1802, transcribed in full below FB to Planta, 11 Feb. 1802, Letter 478 in J&LFB, vol. V, 147, n.7; see also Item 14 in “Appendix,” J&LFB, vol. V, 461.

[37] FB to Planta, 11 Feb. 1802, Letter 478, J&LFB, vol. V, 147.

[38] Interior Minister Chaptal describing Napoleon, as cited by Andrew Roberts, Napoleon: A Life (New York: Penguin, 2015), 238.

[39] General Dutaillais to d’A, 20 Feb. 1802 [misdated 25 Feb., as per Item 18 note], Item 19 in “Appendix,” J&LFB, vol. V, 463.

[40] Staël to Du Pont, 2 May 1800, as cited by Spalding, Prisoner of State, 355, n.12; Unger, Lafayette, 327-8.

[41] D’A to FB, 10 Mar. 1802, Letter 489 in J&LFB, vol. V, 173.

[42] See Items 17 and 18 in “Appendix,” J&LFB, vol. V, 462, along with d’A’s second letter to Bonaparte on 4 Mar. 1803 (Item 22, 464), which is transcribed in full in Letter 536, 399, n.5.

[43] D’A to FB, 8 Mar. 1802, Letter 488 in J&LFB, vol. V, 168.

[44] While Lafayette refused the positions the First Consul offered him, including the American ambassadorship, many of his fellow “prisoners of Olmütz” seized the opportunity to ingratiate themselves and re-establish disrupted careers. Alexandre de Lameth and Jean de Bureaux-Pusy were rewarded with prefectures, while César de Latour-Maubourg was appointed to the Senate. Spalding, Prisoner of State, 230.

[45] Doody, “Introduction,” in The Wanderer, ix; Item 20 in “Appendix” and Letter 489 in J&LFB, vol. V, 172-3.

[46] FB to d’A, 14 March 1802, Letter 490 in J&LFB, vol. V, 175-6.

[47] Harman, Fanny Burney, 284.

[48] George Falle, “Introduction,” in J&LFB, vol. V, xxv.

[49] Kelly Summers, “Healing the Republic’s ‘Great Wound:’ Emigration Reform and the Path to a General Amnesty, 1799-1802,” in French Emigrants in Revolutionised Europe, 236.

[50] See in particular Items 3, 4, 6, 7 and 16 in “Appendix,” J&LFB, vol. V.

[51] Many thanks to Howard Brown for clarifying how pension benefits were tallied. 

[52] Payments were to begin from 2 May 1803. See items 23, 24 (which includes the new service tally) and 25 in “Appendix,” J&LFB, vol. V.

[53] Falle, “Introduction,” in J&LFB, vol. V, xxviii, n.1.

[54] Bertie Greatheed as cited by Falle, “Introduction,” in J&LFB, vol. V, xxvii; Harman, Fanny Burney, 289.

[55] FB to Mrs. Locke, 30 Apr. 1803, Letter 547 in J&LFB, vol. V, 446.

[56] Devlin, The Novels and Journals of Fanny Burney, 115.

[57] FB to Marianne Waddington, c. 27 July 1802, Letter 530 in J&LFB, vol. V, 378.

[58] Harman, Fanny Burney, 288.

[59] D’Arblay started work as an editor (rédacteur) at the Bureau des Bâtiments civils in March 1805. See J&LFB, vol. VI, eds. Joyce Hemlow et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), 708, n.16. 

[60] FB’s clandestine trip home, which precipitated a series of high-stakes inquiries about both her suspect manuscript, marital status, and nationality and Alexander’s eligibility for France’s looming conscription drive, is recounted in diary compilations from her time in Dunkirk and Deal, 4 July to 20 Aug. 1812, Letter 631 in J&LFB, vol. VI, 702-735. 

[61] The Diary and Letters of Frances Burney, Vol. II, ed. Sarah Chancey Woolsey (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1902), 469.

[62] Peter Hughes, “Introduction,” in J&LFB, vol. VIII, eds. Peter Hughes et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), xii.

[63] Burney, “Preface,” in The Wanderer, 4.

[64] Doody, “Introduction,” in The Wanderer, xlv.

[65] Six, Dictionnaire Biographique, vol. II, 316.

[66] I explored the literary impact of Burney’s stranding in France in greater depth in a presentation entitled “Between Amiens and Amnesty: The Parisian Wanderings of the Burney-d’Arblays, c. 1802,” Cultural Exchange during the Peace of Amiens conference, Huntington Library (May 2019).

[67] FB as quoted by Devlin, The Novels and Journals of Fanny Burney, 11.

[68] See, for example, Luc Boisnard, “Les Émigrés sont de retour,” Revue du souvenir Napoléonien 423 (Jan. 2001): 21–30; and Emmanuel de Waresquiel, “Joseph Fouché et la question de l’amnistie des émigrés, 1799–1802,” Annales historiques de la Révolution française 372 (Apr.–June 2013): 105-120. In contrast, the emigration’s concluding chapter, when the final hold-outs returned in 1814-15, is somewhat better known. Beyond standard histories of the Restoration, which prominently feature ultra-royalist émigrés who left early and returned late, see Philip Mansel, “The Return of the Émigrés: Bordeaux, 12 March 1814,” in French Emigrants in Revolutionised Europe, 277-296. 

[69] Bertrand van Ruymbeke, “Refugiés or Émigrés? Early Modern French Migrations to British North America and the United States (c. 1680-1820),” Itinerario 30.2 (2006): 12-32; Maya Jasanoff, “Revolutionary Exiles: The American Loyalist and French Émigré Diasporas,” in The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760-1840, ed. David Armitage (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010), 39; and Summers, “The Great Return,” iv.

[70] Jenny Uglow, In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), 22.

[71] Richard Lovell Edgeworth, A Selection from his Memoirs, ed. Beatrix L. Tollemache (London: Rivington, Percival and Co., 1896), Ch. 10, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16951/16951.txt.

One thought on “A Cross-Channel Marriage in Limbo: Alexandre d’Arblay, Frances Burney, and the Risks of Revolutionary Migration

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