Saturday, April 13, 2013

Delicate and Keen Reproach of the Fair Quaker

I like this "Mrs. Knowles, the Quaker lady." She gets the best of Samuel Johnson in a couple of arguments. Once, he says, "(with eyes sparkling benignantly,) 'Very well, indeed, Madam. You have said very well.'" But another time, "He was irritated still more by [her] delicate and keen reproach; and roared out another tremendous volley, which one might fancy could be heard across the Atlantick." (That's the way Boswell spells Atlantic, okay?) And I guess Johnson liked the looks of Mrs. Knowles, too: "Mr. Wilkes held a candle to shew a fine print of a female figure which hung in the room, and pointed out the elegant contour of the bosom with the finger of an arch connoisseur. He afterwards, in a conversation with me, waggishly insisted, that all the time Johnson shewed visible signs of a fervent admiration of the corresponding charms of the fair Quaker."