Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/376



Here a rigid reader will, I am aware, ask me, how I carne to know of this dialogue between the husband and the wife, as it was not held in my hearing, and most probably in no body’s hearing; to which I answer that, as it is an undoubted fact, that mrs. Thrale palmed Piozzi as her brother upon her husband, upon doctor Johnson, upon some of her relations, and upon divers friends of the family, that palmaiion could not take place without a dialogue; and a dialogue in nearly such words and phrases, as I bave conjecturally put together; so that my dialogue is only to be considered as un á peu près, and not as the identical one that passed between the husband and the wife. In penning my á peu près I bave kept as dose to verisimilitude as was possible for a man to keep who is thoroughly acquainted with the fertility of her distorted powers of invention, and with the impatient, peremptory and nonchalant character, which most eminently distinguished mr. Thrale, whenever trifling and unpleasing matters were presented to bis view and consideration. However, as without my á peu près dialogue the history would bave a gap, which must be fílled, if my reader is not satisfied with the stuff I employed in filling it, let him fili it himself with some better stuff of bis own. He may possibly find out words and phrases more probable and more apposite; but as something of the dialogistical kind is here evidently unavoidable, until bis Worship has composed a pretty conference of bis own between that wife and that husband, let him take my advice and make use of my dialogue.

The hard step thus happily gotten over, mrs. Thrale imparted this great family secret to many others, and to doctor Johnson to be sure. Did the doctor admit it as a good secret, or did he not? Indeed I cannot teli. I only remember that once, on my noticing her eagerness in coUecting guineas for Piozzi’s concert in Hanover-Square, he negligently, and rather fretfully than placidly, bid me not to wonder, as the woman had it strongly rivetted in her fancy that the fellow was a naturai son of her father; and that was the very first hint I had of this affair, of which I heard afterwards enough from other people. But the