Page images

and as his uncle said, “ Ah, Gabrieli, thou wilt never get nearer the altar than the organ-loft,” so it proved. He ran from the Venetian state to Milan, where Marchese D'Araciel proved his constant friend and protector, and encouraged him in his fancy for trying Paris and London, instead of being a burden to his parents, who had fourteen children, a limited income, and many pecuniary uneasinesses. Whilst here, his fame reached the Queen of France, who sent for him and Sacchini, the great opera composer, and it was when they came back loaded with presents, and honours, and emoluments, that Dr. Johnson congratulated me on having got Piozzi again. Sacchini returned and died at Paris, but Piozzi staid (till I drove him from me), notwithstanding all the offers of the Court of France, when I was living at Bath, “ deserted, spiritless, afflicted, fallen.”


“You can hardly think how bad I have been whilst you were in all your altitudes at the opera, and all the fine places, and thinking little of me.” (Johnson, Dec. 20, 1783; Letters, vol. ii. p. 52.) She replies : “My health, my children, and my fortune, dear Sir, are fast coming to an end, I think--not so my sorrows. Harriet is dead, and Cicely is dying.” Her manuscript commentary on these passages is :

“ Dear Harriet died of measles, hooping-cough, and strumous swellings in the neck and throat, 1783. Lucy had fallen a sacrifice to the same train of evils; and Cecilia, now Mrs. Mostyn, had her health so shaken after the date of this letter, that it was with the utmost difficulty she recovered. Mr. Piozzi and I had made


I what we considered as our final parting in London about a month before, when I requested him to tame the newspapers by quitting England, and leave me to endure my debts, my distractions, and the bitter reproaches of my family as I could. He had given up all my letters, promises, &c., into Miss Thrale's hands (now Lady Keith). You laughed when I told you that his expression was: “Take it to you your mamma, and make it of her a countess ; it shall kill me, I know, but it shall kill her too. Miss Thrale took the papers, and turned her back on him, I remember. Well! Sir Lucas Pepys alone knew the true state of my heart. He pitied me, kept my secret inviolable, behaved like a brother to me, and told all the inquirers that I was very ill indeed, and that he had advised Bath.

“ To Bath I went, and Piozzi prepared for his melancholy journey, having first lent me a thousand pounds, for which I remitted the interest to Italy, and our ladies said I had bought him off with their money: so the calumny outlived even our separation. He had not left London when I was summoned to attend the two little girls at Mrs. Ray's school, Russel House, Streatham ; but I refused another painful interview, however earnestly my lover begged it. I breakfasted with Sir Lucas Pepys: told him my heroism, and never knew till Piozzi told me after he returned to England, that he had been sitting at a front window of some public-house on the road all that dreadful Saturday, to see my carriage pass backwards and forwards to where the children resided. Oh what moments! oh what moments! but I went back to Bath. We lived in Russel Street, where I found my three eldest daughters at their work and their drawings. I think they scarcely said · How d'ye do? or how does Cecilia do ?' and we went on together without either rough words or smooth ones. Dr. Staker, to whom Pepys had recommended the care of my health, cut his own throat, and Doctors Woodward (of the pretty house in Gay Street) and Dobson, from Liverpool, were our medical advisers.

" Doctor Johnson never came to look for me at


Streatham, where I lodged during Cecy's danger * ; and I would not go into London for fear of encountering Piozzi's eyes somewhere. So I only stopped at Pepys' house for an hour, close to Hyde Park, and away to Bath again, where one curious thing befell me, and but

You have heard of many severities shown me, now hear of one man like yourself. My maid came to me half-alarmed, half-pleasant somehow, and said: 'I have had a king's messenger sent to me, Madam ; but here's the letter, and the man is gone again. I offered him money, but he had orders to take none.'

“ The letter said :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

4.MADAM,- Let nothing add to your present pain,

Madam as no one surely deserves so much happiness. Your letter is gone safe; I transmitted the amiable contents to Mr. Piozzi, who will receive it in due time; but you should be careful not to send another packet unpaid for, unless you would direct it to me. Your signing no name, and dating, forced me to peruse every word of a letter in three languages which no one could so have written but Mrs. Thrale, to whom I wish all that such merit and virtue, &c. &c. &c.


[ocr errors][merged small]

“ He had directed the letter to


maid ! “ We left our cards with this gentleman as soon as we were married, of course, and he made us a fine dinner and a grand entertainment, and I saw for the first time my kind friend and admirer, Mr. Jackson. Poor fellow! he soon died, but not till Mr. Piozzi had sung with his daughter, and given him all the pleasure he was capable of receiving in the last stage of life, and a miserable state of health."

* Yet he wrote to commend her going there. — Letters, vol. ii.

p. 255.

« PreviousContinue »