Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/356



powers of voice and fist smote almost incessantly their little hearts with inexpressible terror, and made them habitually so dumb, that she never heard them prattle, nor could of course ever observe the graduai encrease of their understandings, and of those powers that made them sufficiently acquainted with the difference between solids and fluids, and between apples and onions. But let us now go back again to the odious paragraph, which is what presses most upon my mind, and quit ali inferior considerations, which are little better to me than buns, and cheese-cakes, and gingerbread from Kensington.

Fairly does doctor Johnson confess in that paragraph that he set me a bad example, by being himself rude and cynical to her; and very prettily does he beg of her to pardon me a misbehaviour, which he considered as a mere imitation of his own. However, of his cynicalness, and rudeness, and misbehaviour, it so happens, that we have not the least glimpse throughout his letters; and, on the contrary, every word in them breathes nothing but great love to her, great affection, great attachment, great consideration, great veneration and other such desirable dainties, wherewith she was for a long time as abundantly feasted, as master Mark Antony himself by the queen of Egfypt.

For the evident disagreement between the doctor’s avowal of misbehaviour to her and the constantly respectful and loving style of his letters, more than one reason may be given. First of ali, mrs. Hester Lynch has carefully omitted printing those letters, or parts of letters, which she thought would not much contribute to the enlargement of her fame and the multiplication of her glories. She tells him somewhere, that, when once he turns the page, she is aure of a disquisition, or an observation, or a little scold; but where do we see any scold, little or great, throughout the two volumes? No such thing is to be found in them: and why? Because she has carefully suppressed every jobation, as they say at Cambridge, which was a flagrant breach of that fidelity she has promised in her preface. In another place she resents, with some asperity, his having plagued her about her talking on painting; but the letter in which he plagued