Letters of Askance

Letters of Askance

Letters of Askance

Letters of Askance

Excerpt

IF I had no duties, and no reference to futurity" (so runs the famous saying reported by Boswell) "I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman." To which old Mrs. Piozzi wrote in the margin: "A pretty Wench was the word."

The word, with its air of mischief, has always been tempting. Bozzy -- who could resist the word better than the creature -- was wary for the dignity of his great friend. We may guess that he softened the phrase on purpose. But I should like to hope that all future editions of the Life will carry Mrs. Piozzi's comment as a footnote.

Who is so engaging as a spirited beldame? For astringent and unterrified comment on mortal manners, for vermouth asperity, for alkaline malice that savors ironies forgotten -- or never noticed -- by guileless man, pay court to some fragile and witty old madonna. It is queer to see the anxiety with which women resent the approach of that which gives them their most gracious charm. Mrs. Piozzi herself did so. Merry old chippendale, at the age of so she gave a rout for 600 guests and led off the dancing at 2 A. M. She had been well seasoned by all the experiences that make a woman of vintage. She had good country . . .

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