Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/359



bo\’ s pertinent remarle, though she muttered it was very ímpertinent. However, a short turn in the pleasure-ground soon restored her to her usuai elasticitj’, made her come back te give US tea, and the puny powers of Presto were mentioned no more.

With a woman that endeavoured constantly to have the last word and ne ver had candour enough to own herself defeated, it may easily be credited that Johnson must have often proved rude and cynical, though he had not formally confessed it in the paragraph. Such liberties however I never took, whatever she may say to the contrari’ ; and whenever she and I differed in opinion, which happened almost daily, I constantly chose to put a speedy end to the altercation by holding my tongue; as, on one hand, I was perfectly aware, that, eclipsed fairlj- as I was by doctor Johnson ’s superior powers, I could not appear of importance enough in her eyes ever to bring her over to my way of thinking on any topic whatsoever; and, on the other, I disdained to play the monkey to him, who never chose to give up his point, but carried altercation as far as it could possibly be carried. To join in opinion with her upon any subject in dispute, was a thing generally bordering upon the impossible; and, as the whole family was mostly together with the doctor and me during the time allotted to conversatíon, I thought it quite unfair to side against her when the doctor was at her; as it was too apparent, that she had already more business than she could conveniently manage. Talking one day about Milton, and she and I diff ering with regard to his versification, which like ali other blank-verse, Italian, Spanish, or English, always proved insipid and unharmonious to my ear, I gave up the point so readily, that Johnson sarcastically observed I had fallen foeminea manu: to which I simply replied that there was no disputing on subjects of taste; and desired him to take up the arg^ment, if he chose, and try if he could succeed better, as I knew that he was quite on my side of the question.

Such having been my Constant tenour of conduct during the seven years, or little less, of my intimacy with the Thrale family.