Page:A tour through the northern counties of England, and the borders of Scotland - Volume I.djvu/118

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[106]

the return of the illustrious guest, and the party began to be very uneasy on his account, when, just before the supper-hour, the door opened, and the Doctor stalked into the room. A solemn silence of a few minutes ensued, nobody daring to enquire the cause of his absence; which was at length relieved by Johnson addressing the lady of the house in the following manner:—"Madam, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my departure from your house this morning; but I was constrained to it by my conscience. Fifty years ago, Madam, on this day, I committed a breach of filial piety, which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has not till this day been expiated. My father, you recollecl:, was a bookseller, and had long been in the habit of attending market, and opening a stall for the sale of his books during that day. Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me this time fifty years ago to visit the market, and attend the stall in his place. But, Madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty, and I gave my rather a refusal. To do away the sin of this disobedience, I this day went in a post-chaise to, and going into the market at the time of high business, uncovered my head, and stood with it bare an hour, before the stall which my