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think in Denbighshire, the proper name of which was Bryn, and to which, on the occasion of her marriage I was told, she had recently added the name of Bella. I remember her taking me into her bed-room to show me the floor covered with folios, quartos, and octavos, for consultation, and indicating the labour she had gone through in compiling an immense volume she was then publishing, called Retrospection.' She was certainly what was called, and is still called, blue, and that of a deep tint, but good humoured and lively, though affected; her husband, a quiet civil man, with his head full of nothing but music.
"I afterwards called on her at Bath, where she chiefly resided. I remember it was at the time Madame de Staël's Delphine,' and 'Corinne,' came out*, and that we agreed in preferring 'Delphine,' which nobody reads now, to Corinne,' which most people read then, and a few do still. She rather avoided talking of Johnson. These are trifles, not worth recording, but I have put them down that you might not think me neglectful of your wishes; but now j'ai vuidé mon sac."
Her mode of passing her time when she had ceased writing books, with the topics which interested her, will be best learned from her letters. Her vivacity never left her, and the elasticity of her spirits bore up against every kind of depression. A lady who met her on her way to Wynnstay in January, 1803, describes her as "skipping about like a kid, quite
"Delphine" appeared in 1804; "Corinne," in 1806.
a figure of fun, in a tiger skin shawl, lined with scarlet, and only five colours upon her head-dress on the top of a flaxen wig a bandeau of blue velvet, a bit of tiger ribbon, a white beaver hat and plume of black feathers-as gay as a lark."
In a letter, dated Jan. 1799, to a Welsh neighbour, Mrs. Piozzi says:
"Mr. Piozzi has lost considerably in purse, by the cruel inroads of the French in Italy, and of all his family driven from their quiet homes, has at length with difficulty saved one little boy who is now just turned of five years old. We have got him here (Bath) since I wrote last, and his uncle will take him to school next week; for as our John has nothing but his talents and education to depend upon, he must be a scholar, and we will try hard to make him a very good one.
"My poor little boy from Lombardy said as I walked him across our market, 'These are sheeps' heads, are they not, aunt? I saw a basket of men's heads at Brescia.'
"As he was by a lucky chance baptized, in compliment to me, John Salusbury, five years ago, when happier days smiled on his family, he will be known in England by no other, and it will be forgotten he is a foreigner. A lucky circumstance for one who is intended to work his way among our islanders by talent, diligence, and education."
She thus mentions this event in "Thraliana," January 17th, 1798:
"Italy is ruined and England threatened. I have sent for one little boy from among my husband's
nephews. He was christened John Salusbury: he shall be naturalised, and then we will see whether he will be more grateful and natural and comfortable than Miss Thrales have been to the mother they have at length driven to desperation."
She could hardly have denied her husband the satisfaction of rescuing a single member of his family from the wreck; and they were bound to provide handsomely for the child of their adoption. Whether she carried the sentiment too far in giving him the entire estate (not a large one) is a very different question; on which she enters fearlessly in one of the fragments of the Autobiography. In a marginal note on one of the printed letters in which Johnson writes: "Mrs. Davenant says you regain your health," she remarks: "Mrs. Davenant neither knew nor cared, as she wanted her brother Harry Cotton to marry Lady Keith, and I offered my estate with her. Miss Thrale said she wished to have nothing to do either with my family or my fortune. They were all cruel and all insulting." Her fits of irritation and despondency never lasted long.
Her mode of bringing up her adopted nephew was more in accordance with her ultimate liberality, than with her early intentions or professions of teaching him to "work his way among our islanders." Instead of suffering him to travel to and from the University by coach, she insisted on his travelling post; and she is said to have remarked to the mother of a Welsh baronet, who was similarly anxious for the comfort and
dignity of her heir, "Other people's children are baked in coarse common pie dishes, ours in patty-pans."
She was misreported, or afterwards improved upon the thought; for, in June 1810, she writes to Dr. Gray: "He is a boy of excellent principle. Education at a private school has an effect like baking loaves in a tin. The bread is more insipid, but it comes out clean; and Mr. Gray laughed, when at breakfast this morning, our undercrusts suggested the comparison."
In the Conway Notes, she says:
"Had we vexations enough? We had certainly many pleasures. The house in Wales was beautiful, and the Boy was beautiful too. Mr. Piozzi said I had spoiled my own children and was spoiling his. My reply was, that I loved spoiling people, and hated any one I could not spoil. Am I not now trying to spoil dear Mr. Conway?"
When she talks of spoiling, she must not be understood literally. In 1817 she writes from Bath to Dr. Gray:
"Sir John and Lady Salusbury staid with me six or seven weeks, and made themselves most beloved among us. They are very good young creatures.
children read your Key to each other on Sunday noons: the Connection on Sunday nights. You remember me hoping and proposing to make dear Salusbury a gentleman, a Christian, and a scholar; and when one has succeeded in the first two wishes, there is no need to fret if the third does fail a little. Such is my situation concerning my adopted, as you are accustomed to call him.”
Before she died she had the satisfaction of seeing him sheriff of his county; and on carrying up an address, he was knighted and became Sir John Salusbury Piozzi Salusbury. Miss Williams Wynn has preserved a somewhat apocryphal anecdote of his disinterestedness: "When I read her (Mrs. P.'s) lamentations over her poverty, I could not help believing that Sir J. Salusbury had proved ungrateful to his benefactress. For the honour of human nature I rejoice to find this is not the case. When he made known to his aunt his wish to marry, she promised to make over to him the property of Brynbella. Even before the marriage was concluded she had distressed herself by her lavish expenditure at Streatham. I saw by the letters that Gillow's bill amounted to near 2,400l., and Mr. (the late Sir John) Williams tells me she had continually very large parties from London. Sir John Salusbury then came to her, offered to relinquish all her promised gifts and the dearest wish of his heart, saying he should be most grateful to her if she would only give him a commission in the army, and let him seek his fortune. At the same time he added that he made this offer because all was still in his power, but that from the moment he married, she must be aware that it would be no longer so, that he should not feel himself justified in bringing a wife into distress of circumstances, nor in entailing poverty on children unborn.* She refused; he married; and she went on in her
If the estate was settled in the usual manner, he would have only a life estate; and I believe it was so settled.