Page images
PDF
EPUB

FOREIGN TOUR.

“PREVAIL on Mr. Piozzi to settle in England.”John8on, July 8, 1784; Letters, vol. ii. p. 376.

Dr. Johnson's advice corresponded exactly with Mr. Piozzi's intentions. He was impatient to show Italy to me and me to the Italians, but never meant to forbear bringing his wife home again, and showing he had brought her. Well aware of the bustle his marriage made, it was his most earnest wish that every doubt of his honour and of my happiness should be dispelled; so that whilst our ladies and Madame D'Arblay, that was Miss Burney, and Baretti, and all the low Italians of the Haymarket who hated my husband, were hatching stories how he had sold my jointure, had shut me up in a convent, &c., we made our journey to our residence in Italy as showy as we possibly could. All the English at every town partook of our hospitality; the inhabitants came flocking, nothing loth, and we sent presents to our beautiful daughters by every hand that would carry them. Miss Thrale was of age by now, and I left Miss Nicholson, the bishop's grand-daughter, whom they appeared to like exceedingly, with them, but she soon quitted her post on observing that they gave people to understand she was a cast mistress of dear Piozzi, who never saw her face out of their company, except once at a dinner visit.

But I have not told you our parting. That I resided at Bath, these letters are a proof; that my residence was a wretched one, needs no asserting. Insults at home, and spiteful expressions in every letter from the guardians, broke my spirits quite down; and letters from my grieving lover, when they did come, helped to render my life miserable. I meant not to call him home till all my debts were paid; and my uncle's widow, Lady Salusbury, had threatened to seize upon my Welsh estate if I did not repay her money, lent by Sir Thomas Salusbury to my father; money in effect which poor papa had borrowed to give him when he was a student at Cambridge, and your little friend just born. This debt, however, not having been cancelled, stood against me as heiress. I had been forced to borrow from the ladies; and Mr. Crutchley, when I signed my mortgage to them for 70001., said: “Now, Madam, call your daughters in and thank them; make them your best curtsey,(with a sneer) “ for keeping you out of a gaol.” He added 5001. or 8001. more, and I paid that off as alluded to *; but Doctor Johnson knew how I was distressed, and you see how even he had been writing!! Will you

wonder to hear how ill I was? After much silent suffering, Doctor Dobson, who felt for me even to

* Dr. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale, London, April 19th, 1784:I am sensible of the ease that your repayment of Mr. Crutchley has given : you felt yourself genée by that debt: is there an English word for it?"

tears, left me one evening in the slipper bath, and I suppose ran to Lady Keith, and spoke with some severity; for she came into the room with him, and said, “ The doctor tells me, Madam, he must write to Mr. Piozzi about your health; will you be pleased to tell us where to find him ?” “ At Milan, my dear,” was the faint reply, “with his friend, the Marquis d’Araciel (a Spanish grandee); his palace, Milan, is sufficient direction.” “Milan!” exclaimed they all at once, for not one word had ever passed among us concerning him or his destination. “ Milan!” So Doctor Dobson, I trust, took pen and ink, and the next day I was better. Miss

I Thrale declared her resolution to go to their own house at Brighthelmstone, and I entreated permission to attend them. Short journeys, change of air, &c., helped to revive me, and Miss Nicholson went with us to Stonehenge, Wilton, &c. in our way to Sussex, whence I returned to Bath to wait for Piozzi. He was here the eleventh day after he got Dobson's letter. In twenty-six more we were married in London by the Spanish ambassador's chaplain, and returned hither to be married by Mr. Morgan, of Bath, at St. James's Church, July 25, 1784.* * A copy of the certificate was found among her

papers : “ Anno Domini 1784, die vero 23 Julij, nullo impedimento detecto, rite in matrimonio conjuncti fuere Gabriel Piozzi, et Hester Lynch Thrale, præsentibus notis testibus Aloisio Borghi, Francisco Mecci, et Angelica Borghi.

6. pr. me RICHARDUM SMITH. 6. Nous Jean Balthazar d'Adhemar de mont Falcon des premiers Comtes souverains d'Orange; Monteliman, Grignan, &c., gouverneur des villes et Châteaux de Dieppe, grand Bailly d'epée

*

Greenland, the solicitor my husband now employed, discovered 1600l. still due to me, which was paid on demand; and for the rest of the debt, Piozzi, laughing, said it would be discharged in three years at farthest. So it was; and I felt as much, I think, of astonishment as pleasure. From London we went immediately to Paris, Lyons, Turin, Genoa, and Milan; where, as the Travel Book tells you, we spent the winter, and where the Marquis of Araciel and his family paid me most distinguished attention. There Mr. Parsons dined with us, I remember, and left me a copy of complimentary verses too long to insert here; but we met again the following summer at Florence, where we were living in a sort of literary coterie with Mr. and Mrs. Greathead, Mr. Merry, whom his friends called Della Crusca, and a most agreeable et cetera of English and Italians. We had designed giving a splendid dinner on our wedding-day to Lord Pembroke and the whole party, and Mr. Parsons presented me verses which will not be understood except I

de Mantes et de Meulan, Chevalier de l'ordre Royal et Militaire de St. louis, premier ecuyer de Madame Elizabet de France, Marechal des Camps et armées du Roy et Son Ambassadeur extraordinaire et plenipotentiaire aupres de sa majesté brittanique, &c.

Certifions que la Signature apposée a l'acte cy de pied est veritablement celle de M. Richard Smith que pleine et entiere confiance doit y etre ajoutée tant en jugement que de hors, en foi de quoi nous avons Signé le present, fait contresigner par l'un de nos Secretaires, et apposé le sceau de nos armes. Donné a notre hotel le Vingt-sept Juillet mil Sept cent quatre vingt quatre.

(Signed) « Le Cte D'ADHEMAR. " Par son excellence

“ HERVIEN."

write out my own, that provoked them. He had written a hymn to Venus, so I said :

While Venus inspires, and such verses you sing

As Prior might envy and praise;
While Merry can mount on the eagle's wide wing,

Or melt in the nightingale's lays:
On the beautiful banks of this classical stream

While Bertie can carelessly rove,
Dividing his hours, and varying his theme

With philosophy, friendship, and love;
In vain all the beauties of nature or art

To rouze my tranquillity tried;
Too often, said I, has this languishing heart

For the joys of celebrity sigh’d.
Now sooth'd by soft music's seducing delights,

With reciprocal tenderness blest;
No more will I pant for poetical flights,

Or let vanity rob me of rest.
The Slave and the Wrestlers, what are they to me?

From plots and contentions removed;
And Job with still less satisfaction I see,

When I think of the pains I have prov'd.
It was thus that I sought in oblivion to drown

Each thought from remembrance that flows:
Thus fancy was stagnant I honestly own,

I But I called the stagnation repose. Now, wak'd by my countrymen's voice once again

To enjoyment of pleasures long past;

« PreviousContinue »