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monly gave, when her friends asked the reason, was, “ That it prevented noise, and saved time. Yet I have known her very angry with some, whom she much esteemed, for sometimes falling into that infirmity.
She loved Ireland much better than the generality of those who owe both their birth and riches to it; and having brought over all the fortune she had in money, left the reversion of the best part of it, one thousand pounds, to Dr Stephens's Hospital. She detested the tyranny and injustice of England, in their treatment of this kingdom. She had indeed reason to love a country, where she had the esteem and friendship of all who knew her, and the universal good report of all who ever heard of her, without one exception, if I am told the truth by those who keep general conversation. Which character is the more extraordinary, in falling to a person of so much knowledge, wit, and vivacity, qualities that are used to create envy, and consequently censure; and must be rather imputed to her great modesty, gentle behaviour, and inoffensiveness, than to her superior virtues.
Although her knowledge, from books and company, was much more extensive than usually falls to the share of her sex; yet she was so far from making a parade of it, that her female visitants, on their first acquaintance, who expected to discover it by what they call hard words and deep discourse, would be sometimes disappointed, and say, “ They found she was like other women.” But wise men, through all her modesty, whatever they discoursed on, could easily observe that she understood them very well, by the judgement shown in her observations, as well as in her questions.
BONS MOTS DE STELLA.
A Lady of my intimate acquaintance both in England and Ireland, in which last kingdom she lived from the eighteenth year of her age, twentysix years,
had the most and finest accomplishments of any person I ever knew of either sex.
It was observed by all her acquaintance, that she never failed in company to say the best thing that was said, whoever was by ; yet her companions were usually persons of the best understanding in the kingdom. Some of us, who were her nearest friends, lamented that we never wrote down her remarks, and what the French call bons mots. I will recollect as many as I can remember.
We were diverting ourselves at a play called “ What is it like? One person is to think, and the rest, without knowing the thing, to say what it is like. The thing thought on was the spleen; she had said it was like an oyster, and gave her reason immediately, because it is removed by taking steel inwardly.
Dr Sheridan, who squandered more than he could afford, took out his purse as he sat by the fire, and found it was very hot; she said the reason was, that his money burned in his pocket.
She called to her servants to know what ill smell was in the kitchen; they answered, they were making matches: Well, said she, I have heard matches were made in Heaven, but by the brimstone one would think they were made in Hell.
After she had been eating some sweet thing, a little of it happened to stick on her lips : a gentleman told her of it, and offered to lick it off: she said, No, sir, I thank you, I have a tongue of my
In the late king's time, a gentleman asked Jervas the painter, where he lived in London ? he answered, next door to the king, for his house was near St James's. The other wondering how that could be; she said, you mistake Mr Jervas, for he only means next door to the sign of a king.
A gentleman who had been very silly and pert in her company, at last began to grieve at remembering the loss of a child lately dead - A bishop sitting by comforted him; that he should be easy, because the child was gone to Heaven. No, my lord, said she, that is it which most grieves him, because he is sure never to see his child there.
Having seen some letters writ by a king in a very large hand, and some persons wondering at them, she said it confirmed the old saying, That kings had long hands.
Dr Sheridan, famous for punning, intending to sell a bargain, said, he had made a very good pun. Somebody asked, what it was? He answered, my am The other taking offence, she insisted the doctor was in the right, for every body knew that punning was his blind side.
When she was extremely ill, her physician said, Madam, you are near the bottom of the hill, but we will endeavour to get you up again. She answered, Doctor, I fear I shall be out of breath before I get up to the top.
A dull parson talking of a very smart thing, said to another parson as he came out of the pulpit, he was hammering a long time, but could not remember the jest; she being impatient, said, I remember it very well, for I was there, and the words were these ; Sir, you have been blundering at a story this half hour, and can neither make head nor tail of it.
A very dirty clergyman of her acquaintance, who affected smartness and repartees, was asked by some of the company how his nails came to be so dirty : He was at a loss; but she solved the difficulty, by saying, the doctor's nails grew dirty by scratching himself.
A quaker apothecary sent her a vial corked; it had a broad brim, and a label of paper about its neck. " What is that,” said she,
my apothecary's son?" The ridiculous resemblance, and the suddenness of the question, set us all a laughing. *
* Of these bons mots the reader will probably think some flat and others coarse; but enough will remain to vindicate the praises of Stella's wit.
USED BY THE DEAN FOR MRS JOHNSON,
IN HER LAST SICKNESS, 1727.
ALMIGHTY and most gracious Lord God, extend, we beseech thee, thy pity and compassion toward this thy languishing servant: teach her to place her hope and confidence entirely in thee: give her a true sense of the emptiness and vanity of all earthly things : make her truly sensible of all the infirmities of her life past; and grant to her such a true sincere repentance as is not to be repented of. Preserve her, O Lord, in a sound mind and understanding, during this thy visitation; keep her from both the sad extremes of presumption and despair. If thou shalt please to restore her to her former health, give her grace to be ever mindful of that mercy, and to keep those good resolutions she now makes in her sickness; so that no length of time nor prosperity may entice her to forget them. Let no thought of her misfortunes distract her mind, and prevent the means toward her recovery, or disturb her in her preparations for a better life. We beseech thee also, O Lord, of thy infinite goodness, to remember the good actions of this thy servant; that the naked she hath clothed, the hungry she hath fed, the sick and the fatherless whom she hath relieved, may be reckoned, according to thy gracious