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his marriage, his kept mistress, his footman, and himself; all getting so drunk with the nuptial bowl of punch, purchased with borrowed money, that the hero of the tale tumbled down stairs and broke his leg or arm, I forget which, and sent for Doctor Johnson to assist him. He had another friend of much the same description, though this gentleman was a lawyer: the other, a poet. ..... Boyce was the author of some pretty things in the “ Gentleman's Magazine,” and Johnson showed me the following verses in manuscript, which I translated : but which are not half so pleasant as was his account of Mr. Boyce lying a-bed: not for lack of a shirt, because he seldom wore one; supplying the want with white paper wristbands : but for want of his scarlet cloak, laced with gold, his usual covering; which lay unredeemed at the pawnbrokers. The verses were addressed to Cave, of St. John's Gate, who saved him from prison that time at least :
6 Hodie, teste Calo summo
Sine pane, sine nummo;
Ex gehennâ debitoria,
O witness Heaven for me this day
Sufficient in this hell to souse
Of this curious creature I have heard Johnson tell how he remained fasting three whole days; and at the end when his consoling friend brought him a nice beefsteak, how he refused to touch it till the dish (he had no plate) had been properly rubbed over with shalot. " What inhabitants this world has in it!"
“ You were kind in paying my forfeits at the club; it cannot be expected that many should meet in the summer, however they that continue in town should keep up appearances as well as they can. I hope to be again among you.” — Johnson.
There is a story of poor dear Garrick, whose attention to his money-stuff never forsook him, — relating that when his last day was drawing to an end, he begged a gentleman present to pay his club forfeits, “and don't let them cheat you,” added he, “ for there cannot be above nine, and they will make out ten.”
At the end of the second volume of “ Letters” are printed several translations from Boëthius, the joint performances of Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Piozzi. She has written on the last leaf:
Book 3d, Metre 7, being completely my own, I would not print, though Dr. Johnson commended my doing it so well, and said he could not make it either more close or more correct:
That pleasure leaves a parting pain
In reference to the second line in this couplet:
Fondly viewed his following bride,
And this beautiful line, which I saw him compose, “ you will find,” said I, “in Fletcher's Bonduca.” “Impossible," replies Dr. Johnson, “I never read a play of Beaumont and Fletcher's in my life.” This passed in Southwark: when we went to Streatham Park, I took down the volume and showed him the
There is an allusion to this incident in the “ Thraliana,” and the entry is an additional illustration of the variety of her knowledge and the tenacity of her memory. It refers to Dr. Parker's complimentary verses describing an imaginary request of Apollo to the Graces and Muses to admit her of their number, and concluding with these lines :
“Henceforth acknowledge every pen
The Graces four, the Muses ten.” For a long time (she writes) I thought this conceit original, but it is not. There is an old Greek epigram only of two lines which the doctor has here spun into length (vide “ Anthol.” lib. 7), and there is some account of it too in Bonhours.
What, however, is much more extraordinary, is that the famous Tristram Shandy itself is not absolutely original ; for when I was at Derby in the summer of 1744, I strolled by mere chance into a bookseller's shop, where, however, I could find nothing to tempt curiosity but a strange book about Corporal Bates, which I bought and read for want of better sport, and found it to be the very novel from which Sterne took his first idea. The character of Uncle Toby, the behavior of Corporal Trim, even the name of Tristram itself, seems to be borrowed from this stupid history of Corporal Bates, forsooth. I now wish I had pursued Mr. Murphy's advice of marking down all passages from different books which strike, by their resemblance to each other, as fast as they fell in my way; for one forgets again, in the hurry and tumult of life's cares and pleasures, almost everything that one does not commit to paper.
The verses written by Bentley upon Learning, and published in Dodsley's Miscellanies, how like they are to Evelyn's verses on Virtue, published in Dryden's Miscellanies ! yet I do not suppose them a plagiarism. Old Bentley would have scorned such tricks; besides, what passed once between myself and Mr. Johnson should cure me of suspicion in these cases.
NOTES ON WRAXALL'S “HISTORICAL MEMOIRS
OF MY OWN TIME.”
I SEND Wraxall with the quartos, that you may read something written of your poor friend as well as something written by her. His book will be a relief when you get into the dark ages of “ Retrospection.” – Mrs. Piozzi to Sir James Fellowes.
Her note on Wraxall's statement relating to Marie Antoinette's first confinement is :
You see how cautious Sir N. Wraxall is — but you may likewise see through his caution. He knew, no doubt, better than myself, that about this time a swathed baby made of wbite marble was laid at the bedchamber door, with this inscription:
Je ne suis point de Cire — subintelligitur Sire,
Je suis de pierre — subintelligur Pierre.” A Life Guard Man as I was informed.
The Dauphin, who died very young, and the other, who lived to suffer still more — whom every one pities, are mentioned in the 2d Vol., but I can't find the place now. Ils étoient vrais Descendans de Louis XIV., mais comment ? Juste Ciel !
In reference to Wraxall's description of the celebrated women of the day, she has pasted in (besides the verses Vol. I. p. 49) copies of the following:
(Said to be written by Charles Fox.)
(Said to be written by Mr. Chamberlayne, who threw himself out of the window.)
With charming Cholmondeley well one might
By love was once betrayed,
For cool indifference prayed :
So selfish and confined ?
Have prayed for all mankind. The verses on Henrietta de Coligny, Comtesse de la Suze, are quoted by Wraxall :
Quæ Dea sublimi vehitur per inania curru ?
Si spectes oculos, Mater Amoris erit.
Her birth examined, Juno we discern,
Her learning not Minerva's self denies: .
But that Love's mother laughs in both her eyes.
Note. — When the King of Sweden was murdered in a ballroom, by Ankerstroom, about the year 1792, there was a comically impudent caricature published representing George the Third, with a letter in his hand and a label out of his mouth, What, what, what! Shot, shot, shot !