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plied, nobody would thank me for compliments they did not understand. At Gwaynynog (Mr. Middleton's) however, he was flattered, and was happy, of course.”
The other entries referring to the Thrales are:“ August 22. — We went to visit Bodville, the place where Mrs. Thrale was born, and the churches called Tydweilliog and Llangwinodyl, which she holds by impropriation.”
“ August 24. — We went to see Bodville. Mrs. Thrale remembered the rooms, and wandered over them, with recollections of her childhood. This species of pleasure is always melancholy. ..... Mr. Thrale purposes to beautify the churches, and, if he prospers, will probably restore the tithes. Mrs. Thrale visited a house where she had been used to drink milk, which was left, with an estate of £ 200 a year, by one Lloyd, to a married woman who lived with him.”
“ August 26. — Note. Queeny's goats, 149, I think.”
Without Mr. Duppa's aid this last entry would be a puzzle for commentators. His note is :
“ Mr. Thrale was near-sighted, and could not see the goats browsing on Snowdon, and he promised his daughter, who was a child of ten years old, a penny for every goat she would show him, and Dr. Johnson kept the account; so that it appears her father was in debt to her one hundred and forty-nine pence. Queeny was an epithet, which had its origin in the nursery, by which (in allusion to Queen Esther) Miss Thrale (whose name was Esther) was always distinguished by Johnson.”
She was named after her mother, Hester, not Esther.
On September 13, Johnson sets down : “We came to Lord Sandys', at Ombersley, where we were treated with great civility.” It was here, as he told Mrs. Thrale, that for the only time in his life he had as much wall fruit as he liked ; yet she says that he was in the habit of eating six or seven peaches before breakfast during the fruit season at Streatham. Swift was also fond
"I remember, Sir, when we were travelling in Wales, how you called me to account for my civility to the people; ' Madam, you said, “let me have no more of this idle commendation of nothing. Why is it, that whatever you see, and whoever you see, you are to be so indiscriminately lavish of praise ?' Why I'll tell you, Sir,' said 1, 'when I am with you, and Mr. Thrale, and Queeny, I am obliged to be civil for four!""
of fruit : “ observing (says Scott) that a gentleman in whose garden he walked with some friends, seemed to have no intention to request them to eat any, the Dean remarked that it was a saying of his dear grandmother :
“Always pull a peach
When it is within your reach;'
and helping himself accordingly, his example was followed by the whole company."
Thomson, the author of the “ Castle of Indolence,” was once seen lounging round Lord Burlington's garden, with his hands in his waistcoat pockets, biting off the sunny sides of the peaches.
Johnson's dislike to the Lytteltons was not abated by his visit to Hagley, of which he says, “ We made haste away from a place where all were offended.” Mrs. Thrale’s explanation is : “ Mrs. Lyttelton, ci-devant Caroline Bristow, forced me to play at whist against my liking, and her husband took away Johnson's candle that he wanted to read by at the other end of the room. Those, I trust, were the offences.”
He was not in much better humor at Combermere Abbey, the seat of her relation, Sir Lynch Cotton (grandfather of Lord Combermere), which is beautifully situated on one of the finest lakes in England. He commends the place grudgingly, passes a harsh judgment on Lady Cotton, and is traditionally recorded to have made answer to the baronet who inquired what he thought of a neighboring peer (Lord Kilmorey) : “ A dull, commonplace sort of man, just like you and your brother.” By way of compensation he has devoted two or three pages of his diary to a bombastic description of his lordship’s grounds, which contrasts strangely with the meagre notes of which the rest of it is composed.
In a letter to Levet, dated Lleweny, in Denbighshire, August 16, 1774, printed by Boswell, is this sentence: “ Wales, so far as I have yet seen of it, is a very beautiful and rich country, all enclosed and planted.” Her marginal note is : “ Yet to please Mr. Thrale, he feigned abhorrence of it.”
Their impressions of one another as travelling companions
were sufficiently favorable to induce the party (with the addition of Baretti) to make a short tour in France in the autumn of the year following, 1775, during part of which Johnson kept a diary in the same laconic and elliptical style. The only allusion to either of his friends is :
“ We went to Sansterre, a brewer. He brews with about as much malt as Mr. Thrale, and sells his beer at the same price, though he pays no duty for malt, and little more than half as much for beer. Beer is sold retail at sixpence a bottle.”
In a letter to Levet, dated Paris, Oct. 22, 1775, he says:
“ We went to see the king and queen at dinner, and the queen was so impressed by Miss, that she sent one of the gentlemen to inquire who she was. I find all true that you have ever told me at Paris. Mr. Thrale is very liberal, and keeps us two coaches, and a very fine table ; but I think our cookery very bad. Mrs. Thrale got into a convent of English nuns, and I talked with her through the grate, and I am very kindly used by the English Benedictine friars."
A striking instance of Johnson's occasional impracticability occurred during this journey.
“ When we were at Rouen together,” says Mrs. Thrale, “ he took a great fancy to the Abbé Roffette, with whom he conversed about the destruction of the order of Jesuits, and condemned it loudly, as a blow to the general power of the Church, and likely to be followed with many and dangerous innovations, which might at length become fatal to religion itself, and shake even the foundation of Christianity. The gentleman seemed to wonder and delight in his conversation: the talk was all in Latin, which both spoke fluently, and Mr. Johnson pronounced a long eulogium upon Milton, with so much ardor, eloquence, and ingenuity, that the Abbé rose from his seat and embraced him. My husband seeing them apparently so charmed with the company of each other, politely invited the Abbé to England, intending to oblige his friend; who, instead of thanking, reprimanded him severely before the man, for such a sudden burst of tenderness towards a person he could know nothing at all of; and thus put a sudden finish to all his own and Mr. Thrale's entertainment, from the company of the Abbé Roffette.”
In a letter dated May 9, 1780, also, Mrs. Thrale alludes to more than one disagreement in France :
"When did I ever plague you about contour, and grace, and expression ? I have dreaded them all three since that hapless day at Compiegne, when you teased me so, and Mr. Thrale made what I hoped would have proved a lasting peace; but French ground is unfavorable to fidelity perhaps, and so now you begin again : after having taken five years' breath, you might have done more than this. Say another word, and I will bring up afresh the history of your exploits at St. Denys and how cross you were for nothing, but some how or other, our travels never make any part either of our conversation or correspondence.”
Joseph Baretti, who now formed one of the family, is so mixed up with their history that a brief account of him becomes indispensable. He was a Piedmontese, whose position in his native country was not of a kind to tempt him to remain in it, when Lord Charlemont, to whom he had been useful in Italy, proposed his coming to England. His own story was that he had lost at play the little property he had inherited from his father, an architect at Pharo. The education given him by his parents was limited to Latin ; he taught himself English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. His talents, acquirements, and strength of mind must have been considerable, for they soon earned him the esteem and friendship of the most eminent members of the Johnsonian circle, in despite of his arrogance. He came to England in 1753 ; is kindly mentioned in one of Johnson's letters in 1754; and when he was in Italy in 1761, his illustrious friend's letters to him are marked by a tone of affectionate interest. Ceremony and tenderness are oddly blended in the conclusion of one of them:
“ May you, my Baretti, be very happy at Milan, or some other place nearer to, Sir, your most affectionate humble servant, SamUEL JOHNSON.”
Johnson remarked of Baretti in 1768 : “I know no man who carries his head higher in conversation than Baretti. There are strong powers in his mind. He has not indeed many hooks, but with what hooks he has, he grapples very forcibly.” Madame D'Arblay was more struck by his rudeness and violence than by his intellectual vigor.*
On Oct. 20, 1769, Baretti was tried at the Old Bailey on a charge of murder, for killing with a pocket knife one of three men who, with a woman of the town, hustled him in the Haymarket.† He was acquitted, and the event is principally memorable for the appearance of Johnson, Burke, Garrick, and Beauclerc as witnesses to character. The substance of Johnson's evidence is thus given in the “ Gentleman's Magazine”:
“ Dr. J. — I believe I began to be acquainted with Mr. Baretti about the year 1753 or 1754. I have been intimate with him. He is a man of literature, a very studious man, a man of great diligence. He gets his living by study. I have no reason to think he was ever disordered with liquor in his life. A man that I never knew to be otherwise than peaceable, and a man that I take to be rather timorous. — Q. Was he addicted to pick up women in the streets? - Dr. J. I never knew that he was. —Q. How is he as to eyesight? - Dr. J. He does not see me now, nor do I see him. I do not believe he could be capable of assaulting anybody in the street, without great provocation.”
The year after his acquittal Baretti published “Travels through Spain, Portugal, and France ; ” thus mentioned by Johnson in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, dated Lichfield, July 20, 1770:
“ That Baretti's book would please you all, I made no doubt. I know not whether the world has ever seen such travels before. Those whose lot it is to ramble can seldom write, and those who know how to write can seldom ramble.”
The rate of remuneration showed that the world was aware of the value of the acquisition. He gained £500 by this book. His “Frustra Literaria,” published some time before in Italy, had also attracted much attention, and, according to Johnson, he was the first who ever received money for copyright in Italy. In a biographical notice of Baretti which appeared in the “ Gentleman's Magazine” for May, 1789, written by Dr. Vincent, Dean of
* See “ The Diary," Vol. I. p. 421.
† In his defence, he said: “I hope it will be seen that my knife was neither a weapon of offence or defence. I wear it to carve fruit and sweetmeats, and not to kill my fellow-creatures. It is a general custom in France not to put knives on the table, so that even ladies wear them in their pockets for general use."