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poulterer's daughter, a great beauty,—but, as I was saying, this is all vanity and vexation of spirit. The pleasures of London are no better than sower whey and stale cyder, when compared to the joys of the New Gerusalem.
Dear Mary Jones! An please God, when I return I'll bring you a new cap, with a turkey-shell comb, and a pyehouse sermon, that was preached in the Tabernacle. And I pray of all love, you will mind your vriting and your spilling; for, craving your pardon, Molly, it made me suet to disseyffer your last scrabble, which was delivered by the hind at Bath. O voman! voman! if thou hadst but the least consumption of what pleasure we scullers have, when we can cunster the crabbidst buck off hand, and spell the ethnitch vords without lucking at the primmer! .
FRANCES BURNEY (MADAME D'ARBLAY)
DIARY AND LETTERS
[Madame d'Arblay's Diary and Letters were published in 1842, two years after her death, by her niece Charlotte Barrett. Of the extracts here reproduced, the first dates from the time when the writer had won sudden fame through her first novel, Evelina (1778); the third and fourth are from the period of her service as "second Keeper of the Robes” to the Queen (1786-91).] (DR. JOHNSON]
August 3, 1778. WHEN We were summoned to dinner, Mrs. Thrale made my father and me sit on each side of her. I said that I hoped I did not take Dr. Johnson's place, -- for he had not yet appeared.
"No," answered Mrs. Thrale, “he will sit by you, which I am sure will give him great pleasure.'
Soon after we were seated, this great man entered. I have so true a veneration for him that the very sight of him inspires me with delight and reverence, notwithstanding the cruel infirmities to which he is subject; for he has almost perpetual convulsive movements, either of his hands, lips, feet, or knees, and sometimes of all together.
Mrs. Thrale introduced me to him, and he took his place. We had a noble dinner, and a most elegant dessert. Dr. Johnson, in the middle of dinner, asked Mrs. Thrale what was in some little pies that were near him.
"Mutton," answered she, "so I don't ask you to eat any, because I know you despise it."
“No, madam, no,” cried he, “I despise nothing that is good of its sort; but I am now too proud to eat it. Sitting by Miss Burney makes me very proud to-day!”
“Miss Burney,” said Mrs. Thrale, laughing, “you must take great care of your heart if Dr. Johnson attacks it; for I assure you he is not often successless."
“What's that you say, madam?” cried he. “Are you making mischief between the young lady and me already?”
A little while after he drank Mrs. Thrale's health and mine,
and then added: “’T is a terrible thing that we cannot wish young ladies well without wishing them to become old women!”
“But some people," said Mr. Seward, "are old and young at the same time, for they wear so well that they never look old.”
“No, sir, no,” cried the doctor, laughing; "that never yet was; you might as well say they are at the same time tall and short. I remember an epitaph to that purpose, which is in—" (I have quite forgot what, and also the name it was made upon, but the rest I recollect exactly:
lies buried here;
Mrs. Thrale then repeated some lines in French, and Dr. Johnson some more in Latin. An epilogue of Mr. Garrick's to Bonduca was then mentioned, and Dr. Johnson said it was a miserable performance, and everybody agreed it was the worst he had ever made.
“And yet,” said Mr. Seward, “it has been very much admired; but it is in praise of English valor, and so I suppose the subject made it popular.”
“I don't know, sir,” said Dr. Johnson, "anything about the subject, for I could not read on till I came to it; I got through half a dozen lines, but I could observe no other subject than eternal dullness. I don't know what is the matter with David; I am afraid he is grown superannuated, for his prologues and epilogues used to be incomparable.”
“Nothing is so fatiguing,” said Mrs. Thrale, “as the life of a wit. He and Wilkes are the two oldest men of their ages I know, for they have both worn themselves out by being eternally on the rack to give entertainment to others.”
“David, madam," said the doctor, “looks much older than he is; for his face has had double the business of any other man's. It is never at rest; when he speaks one minute, he has quite a different countenance to what he assumes the next. I don't believe he ever kept the same look for half an hour together in the whole course of his life; and such an eternal, restless, fatiguing play of the muscles must certainly wear out a man's face before its real time.
“O yes,” cried Mrs. Thrale, “we must certainly make some allowance for such wear and tear of a man's face."
The next name that was started was that of Sir John Hawkins, and Mrs. Thrale said: "Why, now, Dr. Johnson, he is another of those whom you suffer nobody to abuse but yourself; Garrick is one, too; for if any other person speaks against him, you browbeat him in a minute!”
“Why, madam," answered he, “they don't know when to abuse him, and when to praise him. I will allow no man to speak ill of David that he does not deserve; and as to Sir John, why, really I believe him to be an honest man at the bottom; but to be sure he is penurious, and he is mean, and it must be owned he has a degree of brutality, and a tendency to savageness, that cannot easily be defended."
We all laughed, as he meant we should, at this curious manner of speaking in his favor; and he then related an anecdote that he said he knew to be true in regard to his meanness. He said that Sir John and he once belonged to the same club, but that as he eat no supper after the first night of his admission, he desired to be excused paying his share.
“And was he excused?"
“O yes; for no man is angry at another for being inferior to himself; we all scorned him, and admitted his plea. For my part, I was such a fool as to pay my share for wine, though I never tasted any. But Sir John was a most unclubbable man! And this,” continued he, "reminds me of a gentleman and lady with whom I traveled once; I suppose I must call them gentleman and lady, according to form, because they traveled in their own coach and four horses. But at the first inn where we stopped, the lady called for — a pint of ale! and when it came,
, quarreled with the waiter for not giving full measure. Now Madame Duval 1 could not have done a grosser thing!”
Oh, how everybody laughed! and to be sure I did not glow at all, nor munch fast, nor look on my plate, nor lose any partof my usual composure! But how grateful do I feel to this dear Dr. Johnson, for never naming me and the book as belonging one to the other, and yet making an allusion that showed his thoughts led to it, and, at the same time, that seemed to justify the character as being natural! But indeed, the delicacy
I A character in Miss Burney's Evelina.
I met with from him, and from all the Thrales, was yet more flattering to me than the praise with which I have heard they have honored my book.
December 16, 1785. After dinner, while Mrs. Delany was left alone, as usual, to take a little rest, — for sleep it but seldom proves, – Mr. B. Dewes, his little daughter, Miss Port, and myself, went into the drawing-room. And here, while, to pass the time, I was amusing the little girl with teaching her some Christmas games, in which her father and cousin joined, Mrs. Delany came in. We were all in the middle of the room, and in some confusion! but she had but just come up to us to inquire what was going forwards, and I was disentangling myself from Miss Dewes, to be ready to fly off if any one knocked at the street door, when the door of the drawing-room was again opened, and a large man, in deep mourning, appeared at it, entering and shutting it himself without speaking. A ghost could not more have scared me, when I discovered by its glitter on the black, a star! The general disorder had prevented his being seen, except by myself, who was always on the watch, till Miss P-, turning round, exclaimed, “The king, aunt! the king!”
O mercy! thought I, that I were but out of the room! Which way shall I escape? and how pass him unnoticed? There is but the single door at which he entered, in the room! Every one scampered out of the way, - Miss P-, to stand next the door, Mr. Bernard Dewes to a corner opposite it; his little girl clung to me; and Mrs. Delany advanced to meet his Majesty, who, after quietly looking on till she saw him, approached and inquired how she did. He then spoke to Mr. Bernard, whom he had already met two or three times here.
I had now retreated to the wall, and purposed gliding softly, though speedily, out of the room; but before I had taken a single step, the king, in a loud whisper to Mrs. Delany, said, “Is that Miss Burney?” — and on her answering “Yes, sir,” he bowed, and with a countenance of the most perfect good humor, came close up to me. A most profound reverence on my part arrested the progress of my intended retreat.
“How long have you been come back, Miss Burney?"