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away like Burney ?' Dr. Burney upon this said to him, “I believe, Sir, we shall make a musician of you at last.' Johnson with candid complacency replied, • Sir, I shall be glad to have a new sense given to me.'”.
In 1774, the Thrales made a tour in Wales, mainly for the purpose of revisiting her birthplace and estates. They were accompanied by Johnson, who kept a diary of the expedition, beginning July 5th and ending September 24th. It was preserved by his negro servant, and Boswell had no suspicion of its existence, for he says, “ I do not find that he kept any journal or notes of what he saw there.” The diary was first published by Mr. Duppa in 1816; and some manuscript notes by Mrs. Thrale, which reached that gentleman too late for insertion, have been added in Mr. Murray's recent edition of the Life. The first entry is :
“ Tuesday, July 5. — We left Streatham 11 A. M. Price of four horses two shillings a mile. Barnet 1.40 P. M. On the road I read “Tully's Epistles.' At night at Dunstable.” At Chester, he records : “ We walked round the walls, which are complete, and contain one mile, three quarters, and one hundred and one yards.” Mrs. Thrale's comment is, “ Of those ill-fated walls Dr. Johnson might have learned the extent from any one. He has since put me fairly out of countenance by saying, “I have known my mistress fifteen years, and never saw her fairly out of humor but on Chester wall;' it was because he would keep Miss Thrale beyond her hour of going to bed to walk on the wall, where, from the want of light, I apprehended some accident to her, — perhaps to him."
He thus describes Mrs. Thrale's family mansion : “ Saturday, July 30. — We went to Bâch y Graig, where we found an old house, built 1567, in an uncommon and incommodious form. — My mistress chatted about tiring, but I prevailed on her to go to the top. — The floors have been stolen : the windows are stopped. - The house was less than I seemed to expect. — The river Clwyd is a brook with a bridge of one arch, about one third of a mile. — The woods have many trees, generally young; but some which seem to decay. — They have been lopped. — The house never had a garden. — The addition of another story would make an useful house, but it cannot be great.”.
On the 4th August, they visited Rhuddlan Castle and Bodryddan,* of which he says: —
“ Stapylton's house is pretty : there are pleasing shades about it, with a constant spring that supplies a cold bath. We then went out to see a cascade. I trudged unwillingly, and was not sorry to find it dry. The water was, however, turned on, and produced a very striking cataract."
Mrs. Piozzi remarks on this passage: “He teased Mrs. Cotton about her dry cascade till she was ready to cry.” †
On two occasions, Johnson incidentally imputes a want of liberality to Mrs. Thrale, which the general tenor of her conduct belies :
“ August 2. -- We went to Dymerchion Church, where the old clerk acknowledged his mistress. It is the parish church of Bâch y Graig; a mean fabric; Mr. Salusbury (Mrs. Thrale's father was buried in it. ..... The old clerk had great appearance of joy, and foolishly said that he was now willing to die. He had only a crown given him by my mistress.”
“ August 4. — Mrs. Thrale lost her purse. She expressed so much uneasiness that I concluded the sum to be very great ; but when I heard of only seven guineas, I was glad to find she had so much sensibility of money.”
Johnson might have remarked, that the annoyance we experience from a loss is seldom entirely regulated by the pecuniary value of the thing lost.
On the way to Holywell he sets down : “ Talk with mistress about flattery ;” on which she notes: “ He said I flattered the people to whose houses we went: I was saucy and said I was obliged to be civil for two, meaning himself and me. I He re
* Now the property of Mr. Shipley Conway, the great-grandson of Johnson's acquaintance, the Bishop of St. Asaph, and representative, through females, of Sir John Conway or Conwy, to whom Rhuddlan Castle, with its domain, was granted by Edward the First.
† Bowles, the poet, on the unexpected arrival of a party to see his grounds, was overheard giving a hurried order to set the fountain playing, and carry the hermit his beard.
Madame D'Arblay reports Mrs. Thrale saying at Streatham in September, 1778:--
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 I, 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.”