Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/358



he loved it dearly, come from whatever quarter it would. No wonder then, if, in most of his letters to her, he returned it doublé and triple-fold, especially as he always made it a point never to be surpassed by any body in any thing that he did not think sinful; and flattery from others to himself, or from himself to others, was never put by him in the catalogne of mortai oflfences. Hence his dearest dear lady, and dearest dearest madam; hence his professine that to hear her was to hear wit, and to see her was to see virtue; and hence that enormous quantity of other sugary words and liquorish phrases bestowed upon her, that now turn the stomach of ali those who know her intimately, and had frequently been witnesses of his unrestrained upraidings and austere reprimands. It is true, that in one of his letters he begs of her and of one of her daughters to leave off hyperbolical praise, as it corruptsthe tongue of the mother and the ear of the daughter; but the words were written when his spirits were low, in consequence of a severe fit of illness scarcely weathered; and we ali know that illness makes every man somewhat unlike himself, at least momentarily, let his forcje of mind be ever so gigantic.

His austere reprimands and unrestrained upbraidings, when face to face with her, always delighted mr. Thrale, and were approved even by her children; and I remember to this purpose a piece of mortification she once underwent by a trait de nalveté of poor little Harry, some months before he died. — Harry — said his father to him, on entering the room where madam sat with Johnson, — are you listening to what the doctor and mamma are talking about? — Yes, papa, — answered the boy. — And — quoth mr. Thrale — what are they saying? — They are disputing — replied Harry, — but mamma has just such a chance against doctor Johnson, as Presto^would bave, if he were to flight Dash. — Dash was a large dog and Presto but a little one. The laugh this innocent observation produced, was so very loud and hearty, that madam, unable to stand it, quitted the room in such a mood, as was stili more laughable than the