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Pow'r I'll resign, and pomp, and glee,
We were speaking the other day of the famous.
epigram in Ausonius:
"Infelix Dido, nulli bene nupta marito,
Hoc moriente fugis, hoc fugiente peris."
Two lords, in vain, unlucky Dido tries,
"Pauvre Didon! ou t'a réduite
De tes maris la triste sort;
L'autre en fuyant cause ta mort.”
is reckoned a beautiful version of this epigram.
There is, however, a very old passage in Davison, alluding to the same story:
"Oh, most unhappy Dido!
Unlucky wife, and eke unhappy widow:
*To the same class of jeux d'esprit as this epitaph on Dido, belongs one made on Thynne, "Tom of Ten Thousand," after his assassination by Konigsmark, who wished to marry the widow, the heiress of the Percys. Thynne's marriage had not been consummated, and he was said to have promised marriage to a maid of honour whom he had seduced.
"Here lies Tom Thynne of Longleat Hall,
Who never would so have miscarried,
Unhappy in thy honest mate,
When Lady Bolingbroke led off the Crim. Con. Dance, about thirty-five years ago, the town made a famous bustle concerning her ladyship's name — Diana. - Diana. She married Topham Beauclerc, and when her first husband died, some wag made these verses:
"Ah! lovely, luckless Lady Di,
So oddly link'd to either spouse:
Or who dissolve your double vows?
Will it amuse you to read some of the unmerited praises I picked up in this charming society? When we all stood round the pianoeforte, and I felt encouraged to reply to Bertola's complimentary verses, which were certainly improvised: when he sung:
"Esser mi saran fatali
Cento rivali e cento;
"Non in sen d'angliche mura
I tuoi be' lumi al dì si schiuse ;
To which I replied:
Delicati al par di forti
Son li versi di Bertola ;
Mentre lui cantando và;
Ma tentando d'imitarli
S'io m' ingegno,-oh, Dio! invano;
Dall' inusitata mano,
Il plettrino cascherà.
We were in a large company last night, where a beautiful woman of quality came in dressed according to the present taste, with a gauze head-dress, adjusted turbanwise, and a heron's feather; the neck wholly bare. Abate Bertola bade me look at her, and, recollecting himself a moment, made this epigram improviso:
of which I can give no better imitation than the following:
While turban'd head and plumage high
Thus tempted, tho' no Turk, I'll try
VERSES ON BUFFON.
WHILE we were daily receiving some tender adieux from our Milanese friends, the famous Buffon died, and changed the conversation. He was blind a few days before his death, and occasioned this epigram:
"Ah! s'il est vrai que Buffon perd les yeux,
Que le jour se refuse au foyer des lumières : La nature à la fin punit les curieux,
Qui pénétroient tous ses mystères."
The Abate Bossi translated it thus:
"Ah! s'è ver che Buffon cieco diventa,
Se alle pupille sue il di s' asconde;
This last of course was done by your own little friend; who was careful to preserve a power over her own language, although beginning almost to think in Italian by such constant use.
Dedication (writer not specified).
WHAT a whimsical task, my dear friends, you impose
Our Piozzi, methinks, is much fitter for this,
The tinsel one stares at, nor thinks of the stuff.
Preface, by Mrs. Piozzi.*
PREFACES to Books, like Prologues to Plays, will seldom be found to invite Readers, and still less often to convey importance. Excuses for mean Performances add only the baseness of submission to poverty of sentiment, and take from insipidity the praise of being inoffensive. We do not however by this little address mean to deprecate
* The Preface praised by Walpole. See Vol. I. p. 271.