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I well remember that he never rose, but bidding the servant who called us to go to her assistance, quietly turned about and slept to his usual hour. I must give another trait of his tranquillity on a different occasion. He had built great casks holding 1000 hogsheads each, and was much pleased with their profit and appearance. One day, however, he came down to Streatham as usual to dinner, and after hearing and talking of a hundred trifles, "but I forgot," says he, "to tell you how one of my great casks is burst, and all the beer run out.”
Mr. Thrale's sobriety, and the decency of his conversation, being wholly free from all oaths, ribaldry and profaneness, make him a man exceedingly comfortable to live with; while the easiness of his temper and slowness to take offence add greatly to his value as a domestic man. Yet I think his servants do not much love him, and I am not sure that his children have much affection for him; low people almost all indeed agree to abhor him, as he has none of that officious and cordial manner which is universally required by them, nor any skill to dissemble his dislike of their coarseness. With regard to his wife, though little tender of her person, he is very partial to her understanding; but he is obliging to nobody, and confers a favour less pleasing than many a man refuses to confer one. This appears to me to be as just a character as can be given of the man with whom I have now lived thirteen years; and though he is extremely reserved and uncommunicative, yet one must know something of him after so long acquaintance. Johnson has a very great degree of kindness and esteem
for him, and says if he would talk more, his manner would be very completely that of a perfect gentleman.
(Here follow Master Pepys' verses addressed to Thrale on his wedding-day, October, 1776.)
People have a strange propensity to making vows on trifling occasions, a trick one would not think of, but I once caught my husband at it, and have since then been suspicious that 'tis oftener done than believed. For example: Mr. Thrale and I were driving through E. Grinsted, and found the inn we used to put up at destroyed by fire. He expressed great uneasiness, and I still kept crying, "Why can we not go to the other inn? 'tis a very good house; here is no difficulty in the case." All this while Mr. Thrale grew violently impatient, endeavoured to bribe the post-boy to go on to the next post-town, &c., but in vain; till, pressed by inquiries and solicitations he could no longer elude, he confessed to me that he had sworn an oath or made a vow, I forget which, seventeen years before, never to set his foot within those doors again, having had some fraud practised on him by a landlord who then kept the house, but had been dead long enough ago. When I heard this all was well; I desired him to sit in the chaise while the horses were changed, and walked into the house myself to get some refreshment the while.
In 1779, June, after his recovery from the first fit of paralysis, she writes:
His head is as clear as ever; his spirits indeed are low, but they will mend; few people live in such a state of preparation for eternity, I think, as my dear master
has done since I have been connected with him; regular in his public and private devotions, constant at the Sacrament, temperate in his appetites, moderate in his passions, he has less to apprehend from a sudden summons than any man I have known who was young and gay, and high in health and fortune like him.
TRANSLATION OF LAURA BASSI'S VERSES.
MESSER CHRISTOFORO, who shewed us the Specola at Bologna, and made his short but pathetic eulogium on the lamented Dottoressa, pointed with his finger (I believe he could not speak) to her much admired and well-known verses on the gate:
"Si tibi pulchra domus, si splendida mensa,-quid inde?
I brought them home of course, and tried to translate them; but ventured not the translation out of my sight till now.
26th October, 1815.
Thy mansion splendid, and thy service plate,
All else I sweep away;- but what of that?