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if possible, at least the consolation of hope. In her own case, I certainly should not have complied with her injunctions, had I been so unfortunate as to have witnessed her dying hour; but I escaped the misery which such a scene as that of her departure would have caused, by the accident of leaving Bath, just at the time of her being taken ill at Clifton.'--pp. 149, 150.
Half the volume is taken up with this kind of very ordinary twaddle ; but it is occasionally diversified, if not enlivened, by very extraordinary blunders; most of which, we confess, we are inclined to attribute to the inaccuracy of the editor, though some are undoubtedly those of the lady-quas incuria sudit in the levity of familiar conversation, or hasty notes.
• • So you liked," she writes, “ the scenery in my wild counties of Merioneth and Caernarvon? It is very bold and very grand; and looking back upon those mountains from Gwindie in old Mona, Mr. Piozzi said, was finer than Chamouny; inasmuch as the ocean contributed to its superiority.”
Upon this the commentator, though he had lately visited the scene, makes no remark, and we therefore conclude that he concurs in Signor Piozzi's opinion, that the addition of the ocean makes the prospect from Gwindie 'finer than Chamouny. Now, if we recollect right, Gwindie is a little inn in the flattest and most desolate part of Anglesea, with hardly a tree in sight, and the mountains thus exalted above the Alps are at most about three thousand feet high, and must be near twenty miles distant; and not only is the ocean' not visible, but even the little strait that separates Anglesea from Carnarvonshire is as much out of sight from poor dreary Gwindie, as it is from Chamouny itself.
The editor descants largely on Mrs. Piozzi's ' erudition, and tells us that she 'not only read and WROTE Hebrew, Greek and Latin, but had for sixty years constantly and ardently studied the Scriptures and the works of commentators in the original languages.' (p. 7.). And he gives us the following proof of her scholarship, in which the reader will observe that she speaks with more modesty and truth of her classical acquirements : * Dear Sir,—This is how the epigram stands in my book :“Lumine Acon dextro, capta est Leonilla sinistro,
Et poterat formå vincere uterque Deos.
Sic tu cæcus Amor, sic erit illa Venus.' • Quære, would not the epigram have gained in value, had a mother and son been represented as each of them one-eyed ? It would certainly have been more classical to have substituted the word PARENTI for sorori; but I am never sure of my prosody. One could then have translated it thus
Leonilla said-lend me that eye-to her son,
And you'll be blind Cupid, whilst I shall be Venus. • The writer of this epigram was Cornelius Amaltheus, who printed a collection of poems at Amsterdam, in 1685. A Protestant, I believe, though born in Italy; and who parodied, in Latin verse, the Catechism of the Council of Trent.'—pp. 105, 106.
All this was very well in a hasty answer to an accidental inquiry, and is even more erudite than we could have expected from Mrs. Piozzi; but
a person who assumes the dignity of a commentator should at least consult some Biographical Dictionary. Amaltheus could not have printed his poems at Amsterdam in 1685, as he had then been near an hundred years dead. But that is a trifle—the edi. tor also acquiesces in the statement that he was 6 a Protestant who parodied the Catechism of the Council of Trent.' Indeed! we had always understood that Cornelius Amaltheus was a papist, so renowned for orthodoxy as to have been employed with Manucius by one of the Popes to latinize (not by way of parody our readers will believe) the Roman Catechism, which was printed, with extraordinary magnificence, at the papal press in the said Pope's palace, in 1566. But after all, it was not Cornelius who wrote the epigram in question, but his brother Girolamo (Jerome) Amaltheo. And, finally, as to the proposed alteration of sorori into parenti, we are sorry to be obliged to inform the editor that he will find this important reading already established in that recondite and very learned work commonly called the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. XV., p. 327.
The modern lore imputed by the editor to his friend seems equally accurate and important !
'Louis XIV. AND CORNEILLE.—The King knew he had killed Corneille with unkindness: the poet had presumed on his Majesty's attentions, and wished to give political advice, which Louis would not endure.'- p. 189.
This we suspect to be a verbal misnomer of the editor's own. Mrs. Piozzi must have known that it is of Racine that this anecdote is told ; that it occurred about 1697, many years after the death of Corneille; and that although no doubt the king's rebuke may have very much affected Racine, he was killed, not by unkindness, but by an abscess of the liver, after a long illness. Again :
• OBSCURITY.-Bu said was a source of the sublime.'-p. 198. We have a kind of confused idea that Burke wrote something to the same effect, and we cannot but suspect that Mrs. Piozzi may
have seen that work, although she had evidently not seen Manucius's catechism.
The following anecdote, entitled Bosworth Field, looks like a ridicule on the kind of nonsense that is talked by the housekeepers who show old country-houses~
• Passing an evening with her (Mrs. Piozzi) in October, 1816, she entertained her company with several stories, and among them told the following: She said, that in the family of Mostyn, in Denbighshire, with whom she was connected, she had frequently seen a golden cup, the history of which was repeated to her by the present possessor. King Henry VII., when Earl of Richmond, and on his way to fight Richard the Third at Bosworth, stopped for a day at Mostyn Hall; and, on leaving, told Lady Mostyn, that should he be victorious, as he hoped to be, he would, when the battle was over, send her his sword by a special messenger, whom he should despatch from the field. He won the day, and sent the sword, as he promised ; and for ages it hung in the armoury at Mostyn. But a good old lady of the family at length observing that the hilt was of pure gold, and exclaiming that it was a pity metal of such value should lie useless, had the handle melted down, and converted into a caudle-cup. The blade was lost.'-pp. 31, 32.
Far be it from us to dispute the commentator's recollections concerning a sword, of which the handle was melted and the blade lost—the remainder of the weapon may be, for aught we know, still to be seen at Mostyn Hall; but Mostyn Hall is situated on the very farthest point of the north coast of Wales, in the nook formed between the Irish Sea and the estuary of the Dee, and we cannot guess how Richmond should have passed there on his way to Bosworth ; nor even in his preceding march from Milford to Shrewsbury. The following anecdote of Wilkes and Dr. Johnson is new in the mode of telling it :
This led her to remark that she knew the famous John Wilkes well, and had often enjoyed his fine “ conversation talents.” She recalled the droll retort of Wilkes, when he one day overheard Johnson enlarging on the subject of human freedom, and cried out, " What is the man saying ?-Liberty sounds as oddly in his mouth, as religion would in mine?”.
As the editor professes to have read Boswell, we wonder that he should think it worth while to repeat a story already told there, even with such variations as lie, on his recollection of Mrs. Piozzi's chit-chat, has thought proper to make. Mrs. Piozzi was not present at the scene she is thus represented as ' recalling,'--for no such scene ever passed. The story is told by Boswell, as it occurred (Croker's Boswell, vol. iv. p. 79); namely—that he, Boswell, in conversation with Wilkes, quoted something said the day before in another company by Johnson, in favour of liberty, and that
- p. 35.
Wilkes then made to Boswell the remark in question; so that there was neither dispute nor retort, and Mr. Wilkes was not guilty of the personal rudeness thus imputed to him.
But amidst many pages of such trash, there are interspersed a few particulars which we are glad to know. One of these is Mrs. Piozzi's age--a matter left by the lady in her earlier publications so much in doubt, that Mr. Croker was, we remember, blamed by some critic, because, in his edition of Boswell, he was unable to ascertain it within two or three years; but the editor of this work speaks confidently on that point.
In this letter of January 15, 1817, she marks her birth-day, and her advanced age, seventy-seven; and much about that time, I recollect her showing me a valuable china bowl, in the inside of which was pasted a slip of paper, and on it written, “ With this bowl, Hester Lynch Salusbury was baptized, 1740.” She was born on the 16th, or, as according to the change of style, we should now reckon, the 27th of January, 1741.'-p. 167.
Yet the real date is still not quite clear; if she was seventy-seven in 1817, she would have been born in 1740, and not 1741; but this is merely an error in the editor's mode of stating the fact, for Mrs. Piozzi herself says that she had accomplished her seventy-sixth year in Jan iary, 1817—though, as she continued to keep her birthday on the 16th of January, it seems strange that she should adhere to the old style for the day, and adopt the new style for the year. A note, preceding by two days the one in which she states the 16th of January, 1817, to be her 'seventy-sixth anniversary,' is dated, Thursday, 13th January, 1817. Now the 13th of January happened on a Monday in 1817, and there is, therefore, some mistake in these dates. The evidence of the inscription on the bowl seems to us very strong ; first, because it seems improbable that it should have been affixed before the change of style (1751); but, again, because it was not,—for many years before the old style was legally abolished, the custom to employ it in the ordinary intercourse of life; even the magazines began the year with the month of January, twenty years before the style was changed by act of parliament, and ten years before Mrs. Piozzi was born. She indeed appears to fix her own birth to 1741, but as she or the editor have certainly made two errors in the matter, we suspect her also of a third, which is of the nature that ladies are most apt to fall into. We therefore conclude, that she was born on the 16th January, 1740, new style ; though Johnson's celebrated verses to her on her being thirty-five, adopting, no doubt, her own computation, were probably written in 1776. Enough, at all events, is ascertained to prove that Mrs. Thrale was past forty when she inade that match with Piozzi which so
much afflicted her friends. The editor is angry, it
that Mr. Croker (whom he admits to have been in other respects just towards the lady) should have called it a lamentable marriage; but we confess we think, all the circumstances considered, that it was the very lightest epithet which could be used. The worthy editor founds his approbation on the happiness which Mrs. Piozzi assured him that this alliance produced-but does he not see that the indignation and outcry, which it had created, naturally piqued the lady, in self-justification, to say all that was possible, and probably more than was just, in defence of her extravagant and indecent folly ?—to which same obvious cause we must needs attribute an extravagance even worse than the marriage itself-her bringing over from Italy Piozzi's nephew, and conferring on him her name, and the estate of her ancestors, to the exclusion not merely of her relations, but even of her own children-this is the gentleman, we suppose, who figures in this volume under the name and title of Sir J. P. Salusbury.
Another point which this work ascertains, is the following :
• Dr. Johnson says of Pope, “ He has a few double rhymes; but always, I think, unsuccessfully, except once in the Rape of the Lock.”
“The meeting points the fatal lock dissever,
From the fair head-for ever and for ever-" was the couplet Johnson meant, for I asked him. H.L.P.'—p. 209.
We have also a list of the prices which the Streatham collection of portraits, by Sir Joshua, brought at auction in May 1816, and which, the editor says, differs from that which was published in the newspapers of the time. We therefore extract it. • Lord Sandys. £36 15 O Lady Downshire ; his heir. Lord Lyttelton 43 1 0 Mr. Lyttelton; his son. Mrs. Piozzi . 81 18 S. Boddington, Esq., a rich merchant. Goldsmith
Duke of Bedford.
Stewart, Esq. : I know not who. Dr. Burney. S4 0 O Dr. C. Burney of Greenwich, his son. Edmund Burke
0 R. Sharp, Esq. Dr. Johnson
Watson Taylor, Esq., by whom, for Mr. Murphy, was offered 1021. 185. but I bought it in.-H. L. P.'
Dr. Johnson's--infinitely the finest of these portraits, as a work of art, and second not even to Mr. Burke's as an object of national interest, passed at Mr. Watson Taylor's late sale into the hands of Sir Robert Peel. We cannot but rejoice that this admirable portrait of this admirable man has found at last, what we hope to be, a permanent asylum.