Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/382



I say, the happy Piozzi, the glorious Piozzi, suddenly appeared again in this metropolis, with his faithful Mecci by his side, whom no body could guess what was become of. Not the least glimpse of ali these transactions did Johnson ever have, no more than any other of mr. Thrale’s executors; and I, who guessed at them ali, as I was at that time possessed with some power of divination, would not teli the doctor a jot of what I did more than suspect, lest his incredulity should make him seriously quarrel with me; and satisfied myself by only playing the prophet in some small circles, foretelling that the widow Thrale would soon quit her weeds and marry a very pretty fellow. Nor will any body, I hope, blame my shyness with regard to doctor Johnson, who corresponding ali along with his peerless mistress, and hearing from her, that «her desire was always to determine against her own gratification», would infallibly have scouted me and my suspicions, though ever so well grounded, looked upon me as little less than a New-Holland cannibali and possibly felled me down with a sudden stroke of his poker, as the irreclaimable foe of beauty, learning, wit and virtue, whenever brightly constellated in the individuality of the «dearest of ali dear ladies». Besides this cogent reason of holding my tongue with the doctor, I had another no iess cogent ; which was that my powers of divination chiefly arose from a familiar spirit I had in my ring, lineally descended, as he boasted, from that of Socrates, and a dose relation of the Sylph named in the Rape of the lock. This spirit proved, upon the whole, a pretty exact informer; yet of such sort of airy gentry I was always by nature somewhat inconfident, especially as I had found upon a particular occasion, that his Sylphship had made light of his allegiance, and play’d me booty. Had I not reason therefore to mistrust him sometimes, and not to stake Johnson’s friendship upon the faith of such an uncertain being? As soon as mrs. Thrale was apprised of the safe landing on the Albion shore of her caro carissimo, she hurried her three daughters into her coach, telling them that they were now going to their house at Brighthelmstone, there to bathe in the