Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/353



go? — Because — said she, — I should be drowned like a rat if I did; and, be sure, whipping is not so bad as drowning!

I leave the reader to conceive the spight of my profound philosophess, on being thus suddenly convinced of her most profound ignorance about children ’s notions of things. She frowned, she stamped and turned her back in a pet, as she would always do when glaringly convicted of ignorance; but I was glad that I had saved the poor things the whipping which they would bave had that night as soon as in bed, making sure that there was no further danger of it, now that she had rectified her notion of their having pretty distinct ideas about soHds and fluids.

Not long after her forced change of opinion with regard to children ’s intellects, as she and I had one day done dinner by ourselves, I happened to mention the eagerness of young folks after ali kinds of fruit. — It is not the taste of fruit — said she with her usuai acuteness of observation, — but the pretty appearance of it, that strikes children ’s fancies, as their palate does not at ali distinguish the difference between an appiè and an onion; and this I know by long and repeated experience. — Surprised at her odd asseveration, uttered in good earnest, I answered that «I wondered to bear what I had never suspected to be the case; but, as I had some doubtofit, begged leave to ring the beli, and desired the servant to bring up an appiè and an onion». My little Sophy, who was always my cheval de bat alile on such occasions, was then sent for; and the confident woman, cutting presently a good slice of the onion, put it into the child ’s mouth, and bid her peremptorily eat it, which she did with a most astonishing intrepidity. — See, see — said madam, with a triumphant emphasis, — are you clear now that children bave no taste? — Sophy — said I, — mamma gives you the choice of the onion and the appiè, and you may eat which you choose. — To be sure I choose the appiè — said Sophy. — But why — said I, — when the appiè is but small, and the onion three times as large? — Very trae — said Sophy; — but the onion is ver>- bad, and the appiè is very good. —