Henry and Queeney Thrale's accident

  • Posted on: 14 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

On 27 September 1775 Henry Thrale narrowly escaped serious injury after being thrown from the coach during an accident. Hester Thrale wrote the following account of the incident…

Johnson’s perfect unconcern for the Lives of three People who would all have felt for his, shocked and amaz’d me.

Hester Lynch Thrale.

The Banks of the Seine however are surprizingly beautiful, & the whole Country carries an Air of Fertility that is inexpressibly delightful: to see Cherries, Apples, Grapes. Asparagus, Lentils & French Beans planted in large portions all around one, & inviting the Traveller to partake the Bounties of the Nation is so perfectly agreeable that one frets to see so many People beg, where one is morally certain nobody can starve.

These Reflexions are interrupted by the Recollection of a Frightful Accident which befel the Carriage in which were Mr Thrale, Baretti and the Girl: their Postillion fell off his Horse on a strong Descent, the Traces were broken, one of the Horses run over and the Chaise carried forwards with a most dangerous Rapidity, which Mr Thrale not being able to endure till somebody came up—jumped out with intent to stop the Horses for Baretti & Queeney—however he only hurt himself & they went on till Sam1 came up. who had been miserably embarrassed with a vicious Horse which had retarded him so long, and afterwards flung him. This was therefore a day of Distress, & my Master2 found himself so ill when we arrived at St Germains that the Surgeon he sent for, advised him to go on to Paris & get himself bled & take a good deal of Rest which he hoped would restore him. He left us therefore at St Germains &

Mr Baretti kindly went with him to give him Assistance & pet us some Habitation to receive us at Paris. Dr Johnson’s perfect unconcern for the Lives of three People who would all have felt for his, shocked and amaz’d me,—but that, as Baretti says, is true Philosophy; Mrs Strickland did not give it so kind a Name, I soon her Indignation towards him prevailing over her Friendship for me. We slept at St Germains where we had excellent Beds, & on the next day I perceived Queeney had hurt her Side in yesterday's Scuffle, but how much Reason have I to rejoyce that no more Harm befel her.

In her Anecdote of Samuel Johnson, Hester later wrote:

He1 gave himself no concern about accidents, which he said never happened. Nor did the running away of the horses on the edge of a precipice between Vernon and St. Denis, in France, convince him to the contrary, "for nothing came of it," he said, "except that Mr. Thrale leaped out of the carriage into a chalk-pit, and then came up again looking as white!" When the truth was, all their lives were saved by the greatest Providence ever exerted in favour of three human creatures; and the part Mr. Thrale took from desperation was the likeliest thing in the world to produce broken limbs and death.

Hester Maria Thrale Hester Maria Thrale (Queeney)
17 September 1764 - 31 March 1857
Queeney Images · Family tree · First verses · Coaching accident · Almshouses · Crowmarsh dispute
Nicknames Queeney. Nig. Niggy. Tit. Birdey. Hetty. Samuel Johnson affectionately called her Sweeting.
George Keith Image · Daughter
People Grandfather · Father · Mother · Samuel Johnson · Streatham Worthies · King Louis XVI & Queen Marie Antoinette
Writings about According to Queeney · According to Beryl · The Thrales of Streatham Park · Thraliana

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