Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/357



her was suppressed likewise. Had she proved the scrupulous editor she had promised to be, she would have had her due share of disparaging paragraphs as well as myself and others; but she was too subdolous for that, and bravely took care of herself, since good luck had put it in her power. But, was it really fair to disgrace me and others, by thus partially omitting whatever might have afforded us some little comfort, seeing her brought down into the number of the sodi dolotHs, and abstaining from pubHshing what would have left some little stain on her smooth and beauteous skin? Alas, alas ! she would have nothing in the collection, but what proved honey and marmalade to her gentle lips, and left us little else to masticate than horse-radish and rhubarb ! Upon my honour, I think that it was not fair at ali to use US in this disingenuous manner!

The second and strongest reason for the striking disagreement between the censure of misbehaviour, which the doctor honestly past on himself in the paragraph, and the unremitted strain of kind compliments to her throughout the two volumes, may easily be found out, if we do but consider that speaking and writing are two very distinct affairs. When what they had to say was spoken face to face, her pertness, her wrongheadedness, her nonsense, and, above ali, her Constant knack of telling the thing that is not, fretted him and provoked him to talk with rudeness and cynicalness; that is, to teli her very harsh and ver>^ offensive truths, which she most heroically put up with, in consequence of that all-sweeping vanity, which made her ferociously desirous of overtopping ever>’ other female individuai, by passing herself upon the world for a woman of great learning and a fit companion for such a man as the author of Rambler. But when she wrote to him, circumstances were entirely changed. Her thoughts then were not extemporaneous, as in her talk; her petulance of voice and look could not operate in the least; her topics could not admit of much untruth; and her flatter>% above ali, flowed in a plentiful stream; nor does it want notoriety, that doctor Johnson, like any common mortai, was not only fond of flatter}’, but openly and professedly declared oftentimes, that