Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/360



my wonder is how doctor Johnson could so pathetically entreat her to pardon my misbehaviour, and grossly ridicule my supposed desirè of appearing manly, independent and wise in the eyes of a being, that he himself was so often upbraiding and reprimanding with the most earnest scorn. Well did he know likewise, that, in spight of my aversion to wrangle with the woman, as he incessantly did, I was not upon the whole of so meek a temper as to bear that neglect, which he advised her to shew me; and indeed, when a long while after the date of that letter of his, madam took it into her head to give herself airs, and treat me with some coldness and superciUousness, I did not hesitate to set down at breakfast my dish of tea not half drank, go for my hat and stick that lay in the corner of the room, turn my back to the house insalutato hospite, and walk away to London without uttering a syllable, fully resolved ne ver to see her again, as was the case during no less than four years; nor had she and I ever met again as friends, if she and her husband had not chanced upon me after that lapse of time at the house of a gentleman near Beckenham, and coaxed me into a reconciliation, which, as almost ali reconciliations prove, was not very sincere on her side or mine; so that there was a total end of it on mr. Thrale ’s demise, which happened about three years after.

Had it been feasible for me to see the pretty paragraph in Johnson’s letter, wherein he advised her to neglect me a little, might I not have rationally expostulated with him about an advice so very preposterous, probably given in a moment of absurd fondness, not to say in a fít of absurd flattery, and asked of him what kind of superiority over me he attributed to his ridiculous idol? — You know, doctor — I might have said to him, — that it was you yourself, who solicited me during several days to comply with her earnest prayer, to take upon me to teach Italian and Spanish to her favourite daughter; assuring me from her, that, after a few years attendance in that occupation, a rich man, like mr. Thrale, would make me easy with an annuity for the remainder of my days. You know, doctor.