A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
THEYordersaid Ithis matter better in France. - You have beenin France?said my gentlemanturning quick upon mewith the mostciviltriumph in the world. - Strange! quoth Idebating the matterwithmyselfThat one and twenty miles sailingfor 'tis absolutelyno furtherfrom Dover to Calaisshould give a man these rights: -I'll lookinto them: sogiving up the argument- I went straightto mylodgingsput up half a dozen shirts and a black pair of silkbreeches- "the coat I have on" said Ilooking at the sleeve"willdo;" - took a place in the Dover stage; and the packetsailing atnine the next morning- by three I had got sat down tomy dinnerupon a fricaseed chickenso incontestably in Francethat had Idied that night of an indigestionthe whole world couldnot havesuspended the effects of the DROITS D'AUBAINE; - myshirtsand black pair of silk breeches- portmanteau and allmust havegone to the King of France; - even the little picturewhich Ihave so long wornand so often have told theeElizaIwouldcarry with me into my gravewould have been torn from myneck! -Ungenerous! to seize upon the wreck of an unwary passengerwhom yoursubjects had beckoned to their coast! - By heaven! Sireit is notwell done; and much does it grieve me'tis the monarchof apeople so civilized and courteousand so renowned forsentimentand fine feelingsthat I have to reason with! -
But I havescarce set a foot in your dominions. -
WHEN I hadfished my dinnerand drank the King of France's healthto satisfymy mind that I bore him no spleenbuton the contraryhighhonour for the humanity of his temper- I rose up an inchtaller forthe accommodation.
- No -said I - the Bourbon is by no means a cruel race: they maybe misledlike other people; but there is a mildness in theirblood. As I acknowledged thisI felt a suffusion of a finer kindupon mycheek - more warm and friendly to manthan what Burgundy(at leastof two livres a bottlewhich was such as I had beendrinking)could have produced.
- JustGod! said Ikicking my portmanteau asidewhat is there inthisworld's goods which should sharpen our spiritsand make somanykind-hearted brethren of us fall out so cruelly as we do bythe way?
When manis at peace with manhow much lighter than a feather istheheaviest of metals in his hand! he pulls out his purseandholding itairily and uncompressedlooks round himas if hesought foran object to share it with. - In doing thisI felteveryvessel in my frame dilate- the arteries beat all cheerilytogetherand every power which sustained lifeperformed it withso littlefrictionthat 'twould have confounded the most PHYSICALPRECIEUSEin France; with all her materialismshe could scarcehavecalled me a machine. -
I'mconfidentsaid I to myselfI should have overset her creed.
Theaccession of that idea carried natureat that timeas high asshe couldgo; - I was at peace with the world beforeand thisfinish'dthe treaty with myself. -
- NowwasI King of Francecried I - what a moment for an orphanto havebegg'd his father's portmanteau of me!
THE MONK. CALAIS.
I HADscarce uttered the wordswhen a poor monk of the order ofSt.Francis came into the room to beg something for a his convent.No mancares to have his virtues the sport of contingencies - orone manmay be generousas another is puissant; - SED NON QUOADHANC - orbe it as it may- for there is no regular reasoning uponthe ebbsand flows of our humours; they may depend upon the samecausesfor aught I knowwhich influence the tides themselves:'twouldoft be no discredit to usto suppose it was so: I'm sureat leastfor myselfthat in many a case I should be more highlysatisfiedto have it said by the world"I had had an affair withthe moonin which there was neither sin nor shame" than have itpassaltogether as my own act and deedwherein there was so muchof both.
- Butbethis as it may- the moment I cast my eyes upon himIwaspredetermined not to give him a single sous; andaccordinglyI put mypurse into my pocket - buttoned it - set myself a littlemore uponmy centreand advanced up gravely to him; there wassomethingI fearforbidding in my look: I have his figure thismomentbefore my eyesand think there was that in it whichdeservedbetter.
The monkas I judged by the break in his tonsurea few scatteredwhitehairs upon his templesbeing all that remained of itmightbe aboutseventy; - but from his eyesand that sort of fire whichwas inthemwhich seemed more temper'd by courtesy than yearscould beno more than sixty: - Truth might lie between - He wascertainlysixty-five; and the general air of his countenancenotwithstandingsomething seem'd to have been planting-wrinkles init beforetheir timeagreed to the account.
It was oneof those heads which Guido has often painted- mildpale -penetratingfree from all commonplace ideas of fatcontentedignorance looking downwards upon the earth; - it look'dforwards;but look'd as if it look'd at something beyond thisworld. -How one of his order came by itheaven abovewho let itfall upona monk's shoulders best knows: but it would have suited aBraminand had I met it upon the plains of IndostanI hadreverencedit.
The restof his outline may be given in a few strokes; one mightput itinto the hands of any one to designfor 'twas neitherelegantnor otherwisebut as character and expression made it so:it was athinspare formsomething above the common sizeif itlost notthe distinction by a bend forward in the figure- but itwas theattitude of Intreaty; andas it now stands presented to myimaginationit gained more than it lost by it.
When hehad entered the room three paceshe stood still; andlaying hisleft hand upon his breast (a slender white staff withwhich hejourney'd being in his right) - when I had got close up tohimheintroduced himself with the little story of the wants ofhisconventand the poverty of his order; - and did it with sosimple agrace- and such an air of deprecation was there in thewhole castof his look and figure- I was bewitch'd not to havebeenstruck with it.
- A betterreason wasI had predetermined not to give him a singlesous.
THE MONK. CALAIS.
- 'Tisvery truesaid Ireplying to a cast upwards with his eyeswith whichhe had concluded his address; - 'tis very true- andheaven betheir resource who have no other but the charity of theworldthestock of whichI fearis no way sufficient for themany GREATCLAIMS which are hourly made upon it.
As Ipronounced the words GREAT CLAIMShe gave a slight glancewith hiseye downwards upon the sleeve of his tunic: - I felt thefull forceof the appeal - I acknowledge itsaid I: - a coarsehabitandthat but once in three years with meagre diet- are nogreatmatters; and the true point of pity isas they can be earn'din theworld with so little industrythat your order should wishto procurethem by pressing upon a fund which is the property ofthe lamethe blindthe aged and the infirm; - the captive wholies downcounting over and over again the days of his afflictionslanguishesalso for his share of it; and had you been of the ORDEROF MERCYinstead of the order of St. Francispoor as I amcontinuedIpointing at my portmanteaufull cheerfully should ithave beenopen'd to youfor the ransom of the unfortunate. - Themonk mademe a bow. - But of all othersresumed Ithe unfortunateof our owncountrysurelyhave the first rights; and I have leftthousandsin distress upon our own shore. - The monk gave a cordialwave withhis head- as much as to sayNo doubt there is miseryenough inevery corner of the worldas well as within our convent- But wedistinguishsaid Ilaying my hand upon the sleeve of histunicinreturn for his appeal - we distinguishmy good father!betwixtthose who wish only to eat the bread of their own labour -and thosewho eat the bread of other people'sand have no otherplan inlifebut to get through it in sloth and ignoranceFOR THELOVE OFGOD.
The poorFranciscan made no reply: a hectic of a moment pass'dacross hischeekbut could not tarry - Nature seemed to have donewith herresentments in him; - he showed none: - but letting hisstaff fallwithin his armshe pressed both his hands withresignationupon his breastand retired.
THE MONK. CALAIS.
MY heartsmote me the moment he shut the door - Psha! said Iwithan air ofcarelessnessthree several times - but it would not do:everyungracious syllable I had utter'd crowded back into myimagination:I reflectedI had no right over the poor Franciscanbut todeny him; and that the punishment of that was enough to thedisappointedwithout the addition of unkind language. - Iconsider'dhis gray hairs - his courteous figure seem'd to re-enterand gentlyask me what injury he had done me? - and why I could usehim thus?- I would have given twenty livres for an advocate. - Ihavebehaved very illsaid I within myself; but I have only justset outupon my travels; and shall learn better manners as I getalong.
WHEN a manis discontented with himselfit has one advantagehoweverthat it puts him into an excellent frame of mind formaking abargain. Now there being no travelling through France andItalywithout a chaise- and nature generally prompting us to thething weare fittest forI walk'd out into the coach-yard to buyor hiresomething of that kind to my purpose: an old DESOBLIGEANTin thefurthest corner of the courthit my fancy at first sightso Iinstantly got into itand finding it in tolerable harmonywith myfeelingsI ordered the waiter to call Monsieur Desseinthe masterof the hotel: - but Monsieur Dessein being gone tovespersand not caring to face the Franciscanwhom I saw on theoppositeside of the courtin conference with a lady just arrivedat theinn- I drew the taffeta curtain betwixt usand beingdeterminedto write my journeyI took out my pen and ink and wrotethepreface to it in the DESOBLIGEANT.
PREFACE. IN THE DESOBLIGEANT.
IT musthave been observed by many a peripatetic philosopherThatnature hasset up by her own unquestionable authority certainboundariesand fences to circumscribe the discontent of man; shehaseffected her purpose in the quietest and easiest manner bylaying himunder almost insuperable obligations to work out hiseaseandto sustain his sufferings at home. It is there only thatshe hasprovided him with the most suitable objects to partake ofhishappinessand bear a part of that burden which in allcountriesand ages has ever been too heavy for one pair ofshoulders. 'Tis truewe are endued with an imperfect power ofspreadingour happiness sometimes beyond HER limitsbut 'tis soorderedthatfrom the want of languagesconnectionsanddependenciesand from the difference in educationcustomsandhabitswelie under so many impediments in communicating oursensationsout of our own sphereas often amount to a totalimpossibility.
It willalways follow from hencethat the balance of sentimentalcommerceis always against the expatriated adventurer: he must buywhat hehas little occasion forat their own price; - hisconversationwill seldom be taken in exchange for theirs without alargediscount- and thisby the byeternally driving him intothe handsof more equitable brokersfor such conversation as hecan findit requires no great spirit of divination to guess at hisparty -
Thisbrings me to my point; and naturally leads me (if the see-sawof thisDESOBLIGEANT will but let me get on) into the efficient aswell asfinal causes of travelling -
Your idlepeople that leave their native countryand go abroad forsomereason or reasons which may be derived from one of thesegeneralcauses:-
Infirmityof bodyImbecilityof mindorInevitablenecessity.
The firsttwo include all those who travel by land or by waterlabouringwith pridecuriosityvanityor spleensubdivided andcombinedAD INFINITUM.
The thirdclass includes the whole army of peregrine martyrs; moreespeciallythose travellers who set out upon their travels with thebenefit ofthe clergyeither as delinquents travelling under thedirectionof governors recommended by the magistrate; - or younggentlementransported by the cruelty of parents and guardiansandtravellingunder the direction of governors recommended by OxfordAberdeenand Glasgow.
There is afourth classbut their number is so small that theywould notdeserve a distinctionwere it not necessary in a work ofthisnature to observe the greatest precision and nicetyto avoidaconfusion of character. And these men I speak ofare such ascross theseas and sojourn in a land of strangerswith a view ofsavingmoney for various reasons and upon various pretences: but asthey mightalso save themselves and others a great deal ofunnecessarytrouble by saving their money at home- and as theirreasonsfor travelling are the least complex of any other speciesofemigrantsI shall distinguish these gentlemen by the name of
Thus thewhole circle of travellers may be reduced to the followingHEADS:-
TheTravellers of NecessityTheDelinquent and Felonious TravellerTheUnfortunate and Innocent TravellerThe SimpleTraveller
And lastof all (if you please) The Sentimental Traveller(meaningtherebymyself) who have travell'dand of which I am now sittingdown togive an account- as much out of NECESSITYand the BESOINDEVOYAGERas any one in the class.
I am wellawareat the same timeas both my travels andobservationswill be altogether of a different cast from any of myforerunnersthat I might have insisted upon a whole nitch entirelyto myself;- but I should break in upon the confines of the VAINTravellerin wishing to draw attention towards metill I havesomebetter grounds for it than the mere NOVELTY OF MY VEHICLE.
It issufficient for my readerif he has been a traveller himselfthat withstudy and reflection hereupon he may be able to determinehis ownplace and rank in the catalogue; - it will be one steptowardsknowing himself; as it is great odds but he retains sometinctureand resemblanceof what he imbibed or carried outto thepresenthour.
The manwho first transplanted the grape of Burgundy to the Cape ofGood Hope(observe he was a Dutchman) never dreamt of drinking thesame wineat the Capethat the same grape produced upon the Frenchmountains- he was too phlegmatic for that - but undoubtedly heexpectedto drink some sort of vinous liquor; but whether good orbadorindifferent- he knew enough of this world to knowthatit did notdepend upon his choicebut that what is generallycalledCHOICEwas to decide his success: howeverhe hoped for thebest; andin these hopesby an intemperate confidence in thefortitudeof his headand the depth of his discretionMYNHEERmightpossibly oversee both in his new vineyard; and by discoveringhisnakednessbecome a laughing stock to his people.
Even so itfares with the Poor Travellersailing and postingthroughthe politer kingdoms of the globein pursuit of knowledgeandimprovements.
Knowledgeand improvements are to be got by sailing and posting forthatpurpose; but whether useful knowledge and real improvements isall alottery; - and even where the adventurer is successfultheacquiredstock must be used with caution and sobrietyto turn toanyprofit: - butas the chances run prodigiously the other wayboth as tothe acquisition and applicationI am of opinionThat aman wouldact as wiselyif he could prevail upon himself to livecontentedwithout foreign knowledge or foreign improvementsespeciallyif he lives in a country that has no absolute want ofeither; -and indeedmuch grief of heart has it oft and many atime costmewhen I have observed how many a foul step theInquisitiveTraveller has measured to see sights and look intodiscoveries;all whichas Sancho Panza said to Don Quixotetheymight haveseen dry-shod at home. It is an age so full of lightthat thereis scarce a country or corner in Europe whose beams arenotcrossed and interchanged with others. - Knowledge in most ofitsbranchesand in most affairsis like music in an Italianstreetwhereof those may partake who pay nothing. - But there isno nationunder heaven - and God is my record (before whosetribunal Imust one day come and give an account of this work) -that I donot speak it vauntingly- but there is no nation underheavenabounding with more variety of learning- where thesciencesmay be more fitly woo'dor more surely wonthan here-where artis encouragedand will so soon rise high- where Nature(take heraltogether) has so little to answer for- andto closeallwherethere is more wit and variety of character to feed themind with:- Where thenmy dear countrymenare you going? -
We areonly looking at this chaisesaid they. - Your most obedientservantsaid Iskipping out of itand pulling off my hat. - Wewerewonderingsaid one of themwhoI found was an INQUISITIVETRAVELLER- what could occasion its motion. - 'Twas the agitationsaid Icoollyof writing a preface. - I never heardsaid theotherwhowas a SIMPLE TRAVELLERof a preface wrote in aDESOBLIGEANT.- It would have been bettersaid Iin a VIS-A-VIS.
- AS ANENGLISHMAN DOES NOT TRAVEL TO SEE ENGLISHMENI retired tomy room.
IPERCEIVED that something darken'd the passage more than myselfas Istepp'd along it to my room; it was effectually Mons. Desseinthe masterof the hotelwho had just returned from vespersandwith hishat under his armwas most complaisantly following metoput me inmind of my wants. I had wrote myself pretty well out ofconceitwith the DESOBLIGEANTand Mons. Dessein speaking of itwith ashrugas if it would no way suit meit immediately struckmy fancythat it belong'd to some INNOCENT TRAVELLERwhoon hisreturnhomehad left it to Mons. Dessein's honour to make the mostof. Four months had elapsed since it had finished its career ofEurope inthe corner of Mons. Dessein's coach-yard; and havingsalliedout from thence but a vampt-up business at the firstthough ithad been twice taken to pieces on Mount Sennisit hadnotprofited much by its adventures- but by none so little as thestandingso many months unpitied in the corner of Mons. Dessein'scoach-yard. Much indeed was not to be said for it- but somethingmight; -and when a few words will rescue misery out of herdistressI hate the man who can be a churl of them.
- Now wasI the master of this hotelsaid Ilaying the point ofmyfore-finger on Mons. Dessein's breastI would inevitably make apoint ofgetting rid of this unfortunate DESOBLIGEANT; - it standsswingingreproaches at you every time you pass by it.
MON DIEU!said Mons. Dessein- I have no interest - Except theinterestsaid Iwhich men of a certain turn of mind takeMons.Desseinin their own sensations- I'm persuadedto a man whofeels forothers as well as for himselfevery rainy nightdisguiseit as you willmust cast a damp upon your spirits: - YousufferMons. Desseinas much as the machine -
I havealways observedwhen there is as much SOUR as SWEET in acomplimentthat an Englishman is eternally at a loss withinhimselfwhether to take itor let it alone: a Frenchman never is:Mons.Dessein made me a bow.
C'EST BIENVRAIsaid he. - But in this case I should only exchangeonedisquietude for anotherand with loss: figure to yourselfmydear Sirthat in giving you a chaise which would fall to piecesbefore youhad got half-way to Paris- figure to yourself how muchI shouldsufferin giving an ill impression of myself to a man ofhonourand lying at the mercyas I must doD'UN HOMME D'ESPRIT.
The dosewas made up exactly after my own prescription; so I couldnot helptasting it- andreturning Mons. Dessein his bowwithoutmore casuistry we walk'd together towards his Remisetotake aview of his magazine of chaises.
IN THESTREET. CALAIS.
IT mustneeds be a hostile kind of a worldwhen the buyer (if itbe but ofa sorry post-chaise) cannot go forth with the sellerthereofinto the street to terminate the difference betwixt thembut heinstantly falls into the same frame of mindand views hisconventionistwith the same sort of eyeas if he was going alongwith himto Hyde-park corner to fight a duel. For my own partbeing buta poor swordsmanand no way a match for MonsieurDesseinIfelt the rotation of all the movements within metowhich thesituation is incident; - I looked at Monsieur Desseinthroughand through - eyed him as he walk'd along in profile-thenENFACE; - thought like a Jew- then a Turk- disliked hiswig-cursed him by my gods- wished him at the devil. -
- And isall this to be lighted up in the heart for a beggarlyaccount ofthree or four louis d'orswhich is the most I can beoverreachedin? - Base passion! said Iturning myself aboutas amannaturally does upon a sudden reverse of sentiment- baseungentlepassion! thy hand is against every manand every man'shandagainst thee. - Heaven forbid! said sheraising her hand upto herforeheadfor I had turned full in front upon the lady whomI had seenin conference with the monk: - she had followed usunperceived.- Heaven forbidindeed! said Ioffering her my own;- she hada black pair of silk glovesopen only at the thumb andtwofore-fingersso accepted it without reserve- and I led herup to thedoor of the Remise.
MonsieurDessein had DIABLED the key above fifty times before hehad foundout he had come with a wrong one in his hand: we were asimpatientas himself to have it opened; and so attentive to theobstaclethat I continued holding her hand almost without knowingit: sothat Monsieur Dessein left us together with her hand inmineandwith our faces turned towards the door of the Remiseandsaid hewould be back in five minutes.
Now acolloquy of five minutesin such a situationis worth oneof as manyageswith your faces turned towards the street: in thelattercase'tis drawn from the objects and occurrences without; -when youreyes are fixed upon a dead blank- you draw purely fromyourselves. A silence of a single moment upon Mons. Dessein'sleavingushad been fatal to the situation - she had infalliblyturnedabout; - so I begun the conversation instantly. -
- But whatwere the temptations (as I write not to apologize fortheweaknesses of my heart in this tour- but to give an accountof them) -shall be described with the same simplicity with which Ifelt them.
THE REMISEDOOR. CALAIS.
WHEN Itold the reader that I did not care to get out of theDESOBLIGEANTbecause I saw the monk in close conference with alady justarrived at the inn - I told him the truth- but I didnot tellhim the whole truth; for I was as full as much restrainedby theappearance and figure of the lady he was talking to.Suspicioncrossed my brain and saidhe was telling her what hadpassed:something jarred upon it within me- I wished him at hisconvent.
When theheart flies out before the understandingit saves thejudgment aworld of pains. - I was certain she was of a betterorder ofbeings; - howeverI thought no more of herbut went onand wrotemy preface.
Theimpression returned upon my encounter with her in the street; aguardedfrankness with which she gave me her handshowedIthoughther good education and her good sense; and as I led heronI felta pleasurable ductility about herwhich spread acalmnessover all my spirits -
- GoodGod! how a man might lead such a creature as this round theworld withhim! -
I had notyet seen her face - 'twas not material: for the drawingwasinstantly set aboutand long before we had got to the door oftheRemiseFANCY had finished the whole headand pleased herselfas muchwith its fitting her goddessas if she had dived into theTiber forit; - but thou art a seducedand a seducing slut; andalbeitthou cheatest us seven times a day with thy pictures andimagesyet with so many charms dost thou do itand thou deckestout thypictures in the shapes of so many angels of light'tis ashame tobreak with thee.
When wehad got to the door of the Remiseshe withdrew her handfromacross her foreheadand let me see the original: - it was aface ofabout six-and-twenty- of a clear transparent brownsimply setoff without rouge or powder; - it was not criticallyhandsomebut there was that in itwhichin the frame of mind Iwas inattached me much more to it- it was interesting: Ifancied itwore the characters of a widow'd lookand in that stateof itsdeclensionwhich had passed the two first paroxysms ofsorrowand was quietly beginning to reconcile itself to its loss;- but athousand other distresses might have traced the same lines;I wish'dto know what they had been - and was ready to inquire(had thesame BON TON of conversation permittedas in the days ofEsdras) -"WHAT AILELH THEE? AND WHY ART THOU DISQUIETED? AND WHYIS THYUNDERSTANDING TROUBLED?" - In a wordI felt benevolence forher; andresolv'd some way or other to throw in my mite ofcourtesy- if not of service.
Such weremy temptations; - and in this disposition to give way tothemwasI left alone with the lady with her hand in mineandwith ourfaces both turned closer to the door of the Remise thanwhat wasabsolutely necessary.
THE REMISEDOOR. CALAIS.
THIScertainlyfair ladysaid Iraising her hand up littlelightly asI beganmust be one of Fortune's whimsical doings; totake twoutter strangers by their hands- of different sexesandperhapsfrom different corners of the globeand in one momentplace themtogether in such a cordial situation as Friendshipherselfcould scarce have achieved for themhad she projected itfor amonth.
- And yourreflection upon it shows how muchMonsieurshe hasembarrassedyou by the adventure -
When thesituation is what we would wishnothing is so ill-timedas to hintat the circumstances which make it so: you thankFortunecontinued she - you had reason - the heart knew itandwassatisfied; and who but an English philosopher would have sentnotice ofit to the brain to reverse the judgment?
In sayingthisshe disengaged her hand with a look which I thoughtasufficient commentary upon the text.
It is amiserable picture which I am going to give of the weaknessof myheartby owningthat it suffered a painwhich worthieroccasionscould not have inflicted. - I was mortified with the lossof herhandand the manner in which I had lost it carried neitheroil norwine to the wound: I never felt the pain of a sheepishinferiorityso miserably in my life.
Thetriumphs of a true feminine heart are short upon thesediscomfitures. In a very few seconds she laid her hand upon thecuff of mycoatin order to finish her reply; sosome way orotherGodknows howI regained my situation.
- She hadnothing to add.
Iforthwith began to model a different conversation for the ladythinkingfrom the spirit as well as moral of thisthat I had beenmistakenin her character; but upon turning her face towards methe spiritwhich had animated the reply was fled- the musclesrelaxedand I beheld the same unprotected look of distress whichfirst wonme to her interest: - melancholy! to see suchsprightlinessthe prey of sorrow- I pitied her from my soul; andthough itmay seem ridiculous enough to a torpid heart- I couldhave takenher into my armsand cherished herthough it was inthe openstreetwithout brushing.
Thepulsations of the arteries along my fingers pressing acrossherstoldher what was passing within me: she looked down - asilence ofsome moments followed.
I fear inthis intervalI must have made some slight effortstowards acloser compression of her handfrom a subtle sensation Ifelt inthe palm of my own- not as if she was going to withdrawhers - butas if she thought about it; - and I had infallibly lostit asecond timehad not instinct more than reason directed me tothe lastresource in these dangers- to hold it looselyand in amanner asif I was every moment going to release itof myself; soshe let itcontinuetill Monsieur Dessein returned with the key;and in themean time I set myself to consider how I should undo theillimpressions which the poor monk's storyin case he had told ithermusthave planted in her breast against me.
THE SNUFFBOX. CALAIS.
THE goodold monk was within six paces of usas the idea of himcrossed mymind; and was advancing towards us a little out of thelineasif uncertain whether he should break in upon us or no. -Hestopp'dhoweveras soon as he came up to uswith a world offrankness:and having a horn snuff box in his handhe presented itopen tome. - You shall taste mine - said Ipulling out my box(which wasa small tortoise one) and putting it into his hand. -'Tis mostexcellentsaid the monk. Then do me the favourIrepliedto accept of the box and alland when you take a pinchout of itsometimes recollect it was the peace offering of a manwho onceused you unkindlybut not from his heart.
The poormonk blush'd as red as scarlet. MON DIEU! said hepressinghis hands together - you never used me unkindly. - Ishouldthinksaid the ladyhe is not likely. I blush'd in myturn; butfrom what movementsI leave to the few who feeltoanalyze. -Excuse meMadamereplied I- I treated him mostunkindly;and from no provocations. - 'Tis impossiblesaid thelady. - MyGod! cried the monkwith a warmth of asseveration whichseem'd notto belong to him - the fault was in meand in theindiscretionof my zeal. - The lady opposed itand I joined withher inmaintaining it was impossiblethat a spirit so regulated ashiscouldgive offence to any.
I knew notthat contention could be rendered so sweet andpleasurablea thing to the nerves as I then felt it. - We remainedsilentwithout any sensation of that foolish pain which takesplacewhenin such a circleyou look for ten minutes in oneanother'sfaces without saying a word. Whilst this lastedthemonkrubbed his horn box upon the sleeve of his tunic; and as soonas it hadacquired a little air of brightness by the friction - hemade me alow bowand said'twas too late to say whether it wastheweakness or goodness of our tempers which had involved us inthiscontest - but be it as it would- he begg'd we might exchangeboxes. -In saying thishe presented his to me with one handashe tookmine from me in the otherand having kissed it- with astream ofgood nature in his eyeshe put it into his bosom- andtook hisleave.
I guardthis boxas I would the instrumental parts of my religionto help mymind on to something better: in truthI seldom goabroadwithout it; and oft and many a time have I called up by itthecourteous spirit of its owner to regulate my ownin thejustlingsof the world: they had found full employment for hisasI learntfrom his storytill about the forty-fifth year of hisagewhenupon some military services ill requitedand meeting atthe sametime with a disappointment in the tenderest of passionsheabandoned the sword and the sex togetherand took sanctuary notso much inhis convent as in himself.
I feel adamp upon my spiritsas I am going to addthat in mylastreturn through Calaisupon enquiring after Father LorenzoIheard hehad been dead near three monthsand was buriednot inhisconventbutaccording to his desirein a little cemeterybelongingto itabout two leagues off: I had a strong desire tosee wherethey had laid him- whenupon pulling out his littlehorn boxas I sat by his graveand plucking up a nettle or two atthe headof itwhich had no business to grow therethey allstrucktogether so forcibly upon my affectionsthat I burst into aflood oftears: - but I am as weak as a woman; and I beg the worldnot tosmilebut to pity me.
THE REMISEDOOR. CALAIS.
I HADnever quitted the lady's hand all this timeand had held itso longthat it would have been indecent to have let it gowithoutfirst pressing it to my lips: the blood and spiritswhichhadsuffered a revulsion from hercrowded back to her as I did it.
Now thetwo travellerswho had spoke to me in the coach-yardhappeningat that crisis to be passing byand observing ourcommunicationsnaturally took it into their heads that we must beMAN ANDWIFE at least; sostopping as soon as they came up to thedoor ofthe Remisethe one of them who was the InquisitiveTravellerask'd usif we set out for Paris the next morning? - Icould onlyanswer for myselfI said; and the lady addedshe wasforAmiens. - We dined there yesterdaysaid the Simple Traveller.- You godirectly through the townadded the otherin your roadto Paris. I was going to return a thousand thanks for theintelligenceTHAT AMIENS WAS IN THE ROAD TO PARISbutuponpullingout my poor monk's little horn box to take a pinch ofsnuffImade them a quiet bowand wishing them a good passage toDover. -They left us alone. -
- Nowwhere would be the harmsaid I to myselfif I were to begof thisdistressed lady to accept of half of my chaise? - and whatmightymischief could ensue?
Everydirty passionand bad propensity in my nature took thealarmasI stated the proposition. - It will oblige you to have athirdhorsesaid Avaricewhich will put twenty livres out of yourpocket; -You know not what she issaid Caution; - or what scrapesthe affairmay draw you intowhisper'd Cowardice. -
Dependupon itYorick! said Discretion'twill be said you wentoff with amistressand came by assignation to Calais for thatpurpose; -
- You cannever aftercried Hypocrisy aloudshow your face in theworld; -or risequoth Meannessin the church; - or be any thingin itsaid Pridebut a lousy prebendary.
But 'tis acivil thingsaid I; - and as I generally act from thefirstimpulseand therefore seldom listen to these cabalswhichserve nopurposethat I know ofbut to encompass the heart withadamant -I turned instantly about to the lady. -
- But shehad glided off unperceivedas the cause was pleadingand hadmade ten or a dozen paces down the streetby the time Ihad madethe determination; so I set off after her with a longstridetomake her the proposalwith the best address I wasmaster of:but observing she walk'd with her cheek half restingupon thepalm of her hand- with the slow short-measur'd step ofthoughtfulness- and with her eyesas she went step by stepfixed uponthe groundit struck me she was trying the same causeherself. -God help her! said Ishe has some mother-in-lawortartufishauntor nonsensical old womanto consult upon theoccasionas well as myself: so not caring to interrupt theprocessand deeming it more gallant to take her at discretion thanbysurpriseI faced about and took a short turn or two before thedoor ofthe Remisewhilst she walk'd musing on one side.
IN THESTREET. CALAIS.
HAVINGonthe first sight of the ladysettled the affair in myfancy"that she was of the better order of beings;" - and thenlaidit down asa second axiomas indisputable as the firstthat shewas awidowand wore a character of distress- I went no further;I gotground enough for the situation which pleased me; - and hadsheremained close beside my elbow till midnightI should haveheld trueto my systemand considered her only under that generalidea.
She hadscarce got twenty paces distant from meere somethingwithin mecalled out for a more particular enquiry; - it brought onthe ideaof a further separation: - I might possibly never see hermore: -The heart is for saving what it can; and I wanted thetracesthrough which my wishes might find their way to herin caseI shouldnever rejoin her myself; in a wordI wished to know hername-her family's - her condition; and as I knew the place towhich shewas goingI wanted to know from whence she came: butthere wasno coming at all this intelligence; a hundred littledelicaciesstood in the way. I form'd a score different plans. -There wasno such thing as a man's asking her directly; - the thingwasimpossible.
A littleFrench DEBONNAIRE captainwho came dancing down thestreetshowed me it was the easiest thing in the world: forpopping inbetwixt usjust as the lady was returning back to thedoor ofthe Remisehe introduced himself to my acquaintanceandbefore hehad well got announcedbegg'd I would do him the honourto presenthim to the lady. - I had not been presented myself; - soturningabout to herhe did it just as wellby asking her if shehad comefrom Paris? No: she was going that routeshe said. -VOUSN'ETES PAS DE LONDRES? - She was notshe replied. - ThenMadamemust have come through Flanders. - APPAREMMENT VOUS ETESFLAMMANDE?said the French captain. - The lady answeredshe was. -PEUT ETREDE LISLE? added he. - She saidshe was not of Lisle. -Nor Arras?- nor Cambray? - nor Ghent? - nor Brussels? - Sheansweredshe was of Brussels.
He had hadthe honourhe saidto be at the bombardment of it lastwar; -that it was finely situatedPOUR CELA- and full ofnoblessewhen the Imperialists were driven out by the French (thelady madea slight courtesy) - so giving her an account of theaffairand of the share he had had in it- he begg'd the honourto knowher name- so made his bow.
- ETMADAME A SON MARI? - said helooking back when he had madetwo steps- andwithout staying for an answer - danced down thestreet.
Had Iserved seven years apprenticeship to good breedingI couldnot havedone as much.
AS thelittle French captain left usMons. Dessein came up withthe key ofthe Remise in his handand forthwith let us into hismagazineof chaises.
The firstobject which caught my eyeas Mons. Dessein open'd thedoor ofthe Remisewas another old tatter'd DESOBLIGEANT; andnotwithstandingit was the exact picture of that which had hit myfancy somuch in the coach-yard but an hour before- the verysight ofit stirr'd up a disagreeable sensation within me now; andI thought'twas a churlish beast into whose heart the idea couldfirstenterto construct such a machine; nor had I much morecharityfor the man who could think of using it.
I observedthe lady was as little taken with it as myself: so Mons.Desseinled us on to a couple of chaises which stood abreasttellingusas he recommended themthat they had been purchased bymy lord A.and B. to go the grand tourbut had gone no furtherthanParisso were in all respects as good as new. - They were toogood; - soI pass'd on to a thirdwhich stood behindandforthwithbegun to chaffer for the price. - But 'twill scarce holdtwosaidIopening the door and getting in. - Have the goodnessMadamesaid Mons. Desseinoffering his armto step in. - Theladyhesitated half a secondand stepped in; and the waiter thatmomentbeckoning to speak to Mon. Desseinhe shut the door of thechaiseupon usand left us.
C'EST BIENCOMIQUE'tis very drollsaid the ladysmilingfromthereflection that this was the second time we a had been lefttogetherby a parcel of nonsensical contingencies- C'EST BIENCOMIQUEsaid she. -
- Therewants nothingsaid Ito make it so but the comic usewhich thegallantry of a Frenchman would put it to- to make lovethe firstmomentand an offer of his person the second.
'Tis theirFORTreplied the lady.
It issupposed so at least; - and how it has come to passcontinuedII know not; but they have certainly got the credit ofunderstandingmore of loveand making it better than any othernationupon earth; butfor my own partI think them arrantbunglersand in truth the worst set of marksmen that ever triedCupid'spatience.
- To thinkof making love by SENTIMENTS!
I shouldas soon think of making a genteel suit of clothes out ofremnants:- and to do it - pop - at first sightby declaration -issubmitting the offerand themselves with itto be sifted withall theirPOURS and CONTRESby an unheated mind.
The ladyattended as if she expected I should go on.
ConsiderthenMadamecontinued Ilaying my hand upon hers:-
That gravepeople hate love for the name's sake; -
Thatselfish people hate it for their own; -
Hypocritesfor heaven's; -
And thatall of usboth old and youngbeing ten times worsefrightenedthan hurt by the very REPORT- what a want of knowledgein thisbranch of commence a man betrayswhoever lets the wordcome outof his lipstill an hour or twoat leastafter the timethat hissilence upon it becomes tormenting. A course of smallquietattentionsnot so pointed as to alarm- nor so vague as tobemisunderstood - with now and then a look of kindnessand littleor nothingsaid upon it- leaves nature for your mistressand shefashionsit to her mind. -
Then Isolemnly declaresaid the ladyblushingyou have beenmakinglove to me all this while.
MONSIEURDESSEIN came back to let us out of the chaiseandacquaintthe ladythe count de L-her brotherwas just arrivedat thehotel. Though I had infinite good will for the ladyIcannot saythat I rejoiced in my heart at the event - and could nothelptelling her so; - for it is fatal to a proposalMadamesaidIthat Iwas going to make to you -
- You neednot tell me what the proposal wassaid shelaying herhand uponboth mineas she interrupted me. - A man my good Sirhas seldoman offer of kindness to make to a womanbut she has apresentimentof it some moments before. -
Naturearms her with itsaid Ifor immediate preservation. - ButI thinksaid shelooking in my faceI had no evil to apprehend-andtodeal frankly with youhad determined to accept it. - If Ihad - (shestopped a moment) - I believe your good will would havedrawn astory from mewhich would have made pity the onlydangerousthing in the journey.
In sayingthisshe suffered me to kiss her hand twiceand with alook ofsensibility mixed with concernshe got out of the chaise- and bidadieu.
IN THESTREET. CALAIS.
I NEVERfinished a twelve guinea bargain so expeditiously in mylife: mytime seemed heavyupon the loss of the ladyand knowingeverymoment of it would be as twotill I put myself into motion- Iordered post horses directlyand walked towards the hotel.
Lord! saidIhearing the town clock strike fourand recollectingthat I hadbeen little more than a single hour in Calais-
- What alarge volume of adventures may be grasped within thislittlespan of life by him who interests his heart in every thingand whohaving eyes to see what time and chance are perpetuallyholdingout to him as he journeyeth on his waymisses nothing hecan FAIRLYlay his hands on!
- If thiswon't turn out something- another will; - no matter-'tis anassay upon human nature - I get my labour for my pains-'tisenough; - the pleasure of the experiment has kept my sensesand thebest part of my blood awakeand laid the gross to sleep.
I pity theman who can travel from Dan to Beershebaand cry'Tisallbarren; - and so it is: and so is all the world to him who willnotcultivate the fruits it offers. I declaresaid Iclapping myhandscheerily togetherthat were I in a desertI would find outwherewithin it to call forth my affections: - if I could not dobetterIwould fasten them upon some sweet myrtleor seek somemelancholycypress to connect myself to; - I would court theirshadeandgreet them kindly for their protection. - I would cut myname uponthemand swear they were the loveliest trees throughoutthedesert: if their leaves wither'dI would teach myself tomourn;andwhen they rejoicedI would rejoice along with them.
Thelearned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris- fromParis toRome- and so on; - but he set out with the spleen andjaundiceand every object he pass'd by was discoloured ordistorted.- He wrote an account of thembut 'twas nothing but theaccount ofhis miserable feelings.
I metSmelfungus in the grand portico of the Pantheon: - he wasjustcoming out of it. - 'TIS NOTHING BUT A HUGE COCKPITsaid he:- I wishyou had said nothing worse of the Venus of Medicisreplied I;- for in passing through FlorenceI had heard he hadfallenfoul upon the goddessand used her worse than a commonstrumpetwithout the least provocation in nature.
I popp'dupon Smelfungus again at Turinin his return home; and asad taleof sorrowful adventures had he to tell"wherein he spokeof movingaccidents by flood and fieldand of the cannibals thateach othereat: the Anthropophagi:" - he had been flayed aliveandbedevil'dand used worse than St. Bartholomewat every stage hehad comeat. -
- I'lltell itcried Smelfungusto the world. You had bettertell itsaid Ito your physician.
Mundunguswith an immense fortunemade the whole tour; going onfrom Rometo Naples- from Naples to Venice- from Venice toVienna-to Dresdento Berlinwithout one generous connection orpleasurableanecdote to tell of; but he had travell'd straight onlookingneither to his right hand nor his leftlest Love or Pityshouldseduce him out of his road.
Peace beto them! if it is to be found; but heaven itselfwere itpossibleto get there with such temperswould want objects to giveit; everygentle spirit would come flying upon the wings of Love tohail theirarrival. - Nothing would the souls of Smelfungus andMundungushear ofbut fresh anthems of joyfresh raptures ofloveandfresh congratulations of their common felicity. - Iheartilypity them; they have brought up no faculties for thiswork; andwere the happiest mansion in heaven to be allotted toSmelfungusand Mundungusthey would be so far from being happythat thesouls of Smelfungus and Mundungus would do penance thereto alleternity!
I HAD oncelost my portmanteau from behind my chaiseand twice gotout in therainand one of the times up to the knees in dirttohelp thepostilion to tie it onwithout being able to find outwhat waswanting. - Nor was it till I got to Montreuilupon thelandlord'sasking me if I wanted not a servantthat it occurred tomethatthat was the very thing.
Aservant! That I do most sadlyquoth I. - BecauseMonsieursaid thelandlordthere is a clever young fellowwho would bevery proudof the honour to serve an Englishman. - But why anEnglishonemore than any other? - They are so generoussaid thelandlord.- I'll be shot if this is not a livre out of my pocketquoth I tomyselfthis very night. - But they have wherewithal tobe soMonsieuradded he. - Set down one livre more for thatquoth I. -It was but last nightsaid the landlordQU'UN MILORDANGLOISPRESENTOIT UN ECU E LA FILLE DE CHAMBRE. - TANT PIS POURMADEMOISELLEJANATONEsaid I.
NowJanatonebeing the landlord's daughterand the landlordsupposingI was young in Frenchtook the liberty to inform meIshould nothave said TANT PIS - butTANT MIEUX. TANT MIEUXTOUJOURSMONSIEURsaid hewhen there is any thing to be got -TANT PISwhen there is nothing. It comes to the same thingsaidI. PARDONNEZ-MOIsaid the landlord.
I cannottake a fitter opportunity to observeonce for allthatTANT PISand TANT MIEUXbeing two of the great hinges in Frenchconversationa stranger would do well to set himself right in theuse ofthembefore he gets to Paris.
A promptFrench marquis at our ambassador's table demanded of Mr.H-if hewas H- the poet? Nosaid Mr. H-mildly. - TANT PISrepliedthe marquis.
It is H-the historiansaid another- TANT MIEUXsaid themarquis. And Mr. H-who is a man of an excellent heartreturn'dthanks forboth.
When thelandlord had set me right in this matterhe called in LaFleurwhich was the name of the young man he had spoke of-sayingonly firstThat as for his talents he would presume to saynothing-Monsieur was the best judge what would suit him; but forthefidelity of La Fleur he would stand responsible in all he wasworth.
Thelandlord deliver'd this in a manner which instantly set my mindto thebusiness I was upon; - and La Fleurwho stood waitingwithoutin that breathless expectation which every son of natureof us havefelt in our turnscame in.
I AM aptto be taken with all kinds of people at first sight; butnever moreso than when a poor devil comes to offer his service toso poor adevil as myself; and as I know this weaknessI alwayssuffer myjudgment to draw back something on that very account-and thismore or lessaccording to the mood I am inand the case;- and Imay addthe gender tooof the person I am to govern.
When LaFleur entered the roomafter every discount I could makefor mysoulthe genuine look and air of the fellow determined thematter atonce in his favour; so I hired him first- and thenbegan toenquire what he could do: But I shall find out histalentsquoth Ias I want them- besidesa Frenchman can doeverything.
Now poorLa Fleur could do nothing in the world but beat a drumand play amarch or two upon the fife. I was determined to makehistalents do; and can't say my weakness was ever so insulted bymy wisdomas in the attempt.
La Fleurhad set out early in lifeas gallantly as most FrenchmendowithSERVING for a few years; at the end of whichhavingsatisfiedthe sentimentand foundmoreoverThat the honour ofbeating adrum was likely to be its own rewardas it open'd nofurthertrack of glory to him- he retired E SES TERRESand livedCOMME ILPLAISOIT E DIEU; - that is to sayupon nothing.
- And soquoth Wisdomyou have hired a drummer to attend you inthis tourof yours through France and Italy! - Psha! said Iand donot onehalf of our gentry go with a humdrum COMPAGNON DU VOYAGEthe sameroundand have the piper and the devil and all to paybesides? When man can extricate himself with an EQUIVOQUE in suchan unequalmatch- he is not ill off. - But you can do somethingelseLaFleur? said I. - O QU'OUI! he could make spatterdashesand play alittle upon the fiddle. - Bravo! said Wisdom. - WhyIplay abass myselfsaid I; - we shall do very well. You canshaveanddress a wig a littleLa Fleur? - He had all thedispositionsin the world. - It is enough for heaven! said Iinterruptinghim- and ought to be enough for me. - Sosuppercoming inand having a frisky English spaniel on one side of mychairanda French valetwith as much hilarity in his countenanceas everNature painted in oneon the other- I was satisfied tomy heart'scontent with my empire; and if monarchs knew what theywould beatthey might be as satisfied as I was.
AS LaFleur went the whole tour of France and Italy with meandwill beoften upon the stageI must interest the reader a littlefurther inhis behalfby sayingthat I had never less reason torepent ofthe impulses which generally do determine methan inregard tothis fellow; - he was a faithfulaffectionatesimplesoul asever trudged after the heels of a philosopher; andnotwithstandinghis talents of drum beating and spatterdash-makingwhichthough very good in themselveshappened to be of no greatservice tomeyet was I hourly recompensed by the festivity of histemper; -it supplied all defects: - I had a constant resource inhis looksin all difficulties and distresses of my own - I wasgoing tohave added of his too; but La Fleur was out of the reachof everything; forwhether 'twas hunger or thirstor cold ornakednessor watchingsor whatever stripes of ill luck La Fleurmet within our journeyingsthere was no index in his physiognomyto pointthem out by- he was eternally the same; so that if I ama piece ofa philosopherwhich Satan now and then puts it into myhead I am- it always mortifies the pride of the conceitbyreflectinghow much I owe to the complexional philosophy of thispoorfellowfor shaming me into one of a better kind. With allthisLaFleur had a small cast of the coxcomb- but he seemed atfirstsight to be more a coxcomb of nature than of art; andbeforeI had beenthree days in Paris with him- he seemed to be nocoxcomb atall.
THE nextmorningLa Fleur entering upon his employmentIdeliveredto him the key of my portmanteauwith an inventory of myhalf adozen shirts and silk pair of breechesand bid him fastenall uponthe chaise- get the horses put to- and desire thelandlordto come in with his bill.
C'EST UNGARCON DE BONNE FORTUNEsaid the landlordpointingthroughthe window to half a dozen wenches who had got round aboutLa Fleurand were most kindly taking their leave of himas thepostilionwas leading out the horses. La Fleur kissed all theirhandsround and round againand thrice he wiped his eyesandthrice hepromised he would bring them all pardons from Rome.
- Theyoung fellowsaid the landlordis beloved by all the townand thereis scarce a corner in Montreuil where the want of himwill notbe felt: he has but one misfortune in the worldcontinuedhe"heis always in love." - I am heartily glad of itsaid I-'twillsave me the trouble every night of putting my breeches undermy head. In saying thisI was making not so much La Fleur's elogeas my ownhaving been in love with one princess or another almostall mylifeand I hope I shall go on so till I diebeing firmlypersuadedthat if ever I do a mean actionit must be in someintervalbetwixt one passion and another: whilst this interregnumlastsIalways perceive my heart locked up- I can scarce find init to giveMisery a sixpence; and therefore I always get out of itas fast asI can - and the moment I am rekindledI am allgenerosityand good-will again; and would do anything in the worldeither foror with any oneif they will but satisfy me there is nosin in it.
- But insaying this- sure I am commanding the passion- notmyself.
- THE townof Abderanotwithstanding Democritus lived theretrying allthe powers of irony and laughter to reclaim itwas thevilest andmost profligate town in all Thrace. What for poisonsconspiraciesand assassinations- libelspasquinadesandtumultsthere was no going there by day - 'twas worse by night.
Nowwhenthings were at the worstit came to pass that theAndromedaof Euripides being represented at Abderathe wholeorchestrawas delighted with it: but of all the passages whichdelightedthemnothing operated more upon their imaginations thanthe tenderstrokes of nature which the poet had wrought up in thatpatheticspeech of PerseusO CUPIDPRINCE OF GODS AND MEN! &c.Every manalmost spoke pure iambics the next dayand talked ofnothingbut Perseus his pathetic address- "O CUPID! PRINCE OFGODS ANDMEN!" - in every street of Abderain every house"OCupid! Cupid!" - in every mouthlike the natural notes of somesweetmelody which drop from itwhether it will or no- nothingbut"Cupid! Cupid! prince of gods and men!" - The fire caught -andthe wholecitylike the heart of one manopen'd itself to Love.
Nopharmacopolist could sell one grain of hellebore- not a singlearmourerhad a heart to forge one instrument of death; - Friendshipand Virtuemet togetherand kiss'd each other in the street; thegolden agereturnedand hung over the town of Abdera - everyAbderitetook his eaten pipeand every Abderitish woman left herpurpleweband chastely sat her down and listened to the song.
'Twas onlyin the powersays the Fragmentof the God whose empireextendethfrom heaven to earthand even to the depths of the seato havedone this.
WHEN allis readyand every article is disputed and paid for inthe innunless you are a little sour'd by the adventurethere isalways amatter to compound at the doorbefore you can get intoyourchaise; and that is with the sons and daughters of povertywhosurround you. Let no man say"Let them go to the devil!"-'tis acruel journey to send a few miserablesand they have hadsufferingsenow without it: I always think it better to take a fewsous outin my hand; and I would counsel every gentle traveller todo solikewise: he need not be so exact in setting down his motivesfor givingthem; - They will be registered elsewhere.
For my ownpartthere is no man gives so little as I do; for fewthat Iknowhave so little to give; but as this was the firstpublic actof my charity in FranceI took the more notice of it.
Awell-a-way! said I- I have but eight sous in the worldshowingthem in myhandand there are eight poor men and eight poor womenfor 'em.
A poortatter'd soulwithout a shirt oninstantly withdrew hisclaimbyretiring two steps out of the circleand making adisqualifyingbow on his part. Had the whole PARTERRE cried outPLACE AUXDAMESwith one voiceit would not have conveyed thesentimentof a deference for the sex with half the effect.
JustHeaven! for what wise reasons hast thou ordered itthatbeggaryand urbanitywhich are at such variance in othercountriesshould find a way to be at unity in this?
- Iinsisted upon presenting him with a single sousmerely for hisPOLITESSE.
A poorlittle dwarfish brisk fellowwho stood over against me inthecircleputting something first under his armwhich had oncebeen ahattook his snuff-box out of his pocketand generouslyoffer'd apinch on both sides of him: it was a gift of consequenceandmodestly declined. - The poor little fellow pressed it uponthem witha nod of welcomeness. - PRENEZ EN - PRENEZsaid helookinganother way; so they each took a pinch. - Pity thy boxshouldever want one! said I to myself; so I put a couple of sousinto it -taking a small pinch out of his boxto enhance theirvalueasI did it. He felt the weight of the second obligationmore thanof the first- 'twas doing him an honour- the otherwas onlydoing him a charity; - and he made me a bow down to theground forit.
- Here!said I to an old soldier with one handwho had beencampaignedand worn out to death in the service - here's a coupleof sousfor thee. - VIVE LE ROI! said the old soldier.
I had thenbut three sous left: so I gave onesimplyPOUR L'AMOURDE DIEUwhich was the footing on which it was begg'd. - The poorwoman hada dislocated hip; so it could not be well upon any othermotive.
MON CHERET TRES-CHARITABLE MONSIEUR. - There's no opposing thissaid I.
MILORDANGLOIS - the very sound was worth the money; - so I gave MYLAST SOUSFOR IT. But in the eagerness of givingI had overlookeda PAUVREHONTEUXwho had had no one to ask a sous for himandwhoIbelievewould have perishedere he could have ask'd oneforhimself: he stood by the chaise a little without the circleand wipeda tear from a face which I thought had seen better days.- GoodGod! said I - and I have not one single sous left to givehim. - Butyou have a thousand! cried all the powers of naturestirringwithin me; - so I gave him - no matter what - I am ashamedto say HOWMUCH now- and was ashamed to think how littlethen:soif thereader can form any conjecture of my dispositionasthese twofixed points are given himhe may judge within a livreor twowhat was the precise sum.
I couldafford nothing for the restbut DIEU VOUS BENISSE!
- ET LEBON DIEU VOUS BENISSE ENCOREsaid the old soldierthedwarf&c. The PAUVRE HONTEUX could say nothing; - he pull'd out alittlehandkerchiefand wiped his face as he turned away - and Ithought hethanked me more than them all.
HAVINGsettled all these little mattersI got into my post-chaisewith moreease than ever I got into a post-chaise in my life; andLa Fleurhaving got one large jack-boot on the far side of a littleBIDETandanother on this (for I count nothing of his legs) - hecanter'daway before me as happy and as perpendicular as a prince.- But whatis happiness! what is grandeur in this painted scene oflife! A dead assbefore we had got a leagueput a sudden stop toLa Fleur'scareer; - his bidet would not pass by it- a contentionarosebetwixt themand the poor fellow was kick'd out of his jack-boots thevery first kick.
La Fleurbore his fall like a French Christiansaying neither morenor lessupon itthan DIABLE! So presently got upand came tothe chargeagain astride his bidetbeating him up to it as hewould havebeat his drum.
The bidetflew from one side of the road to the otherthen backagain-then this waythen that wayand in shortevery way butby thedead ass: - La Fleur insisted upon the thing - and the bidetthrew him.
What's thematterLa Fleursaid Iwith this bidet of thine?Monsieursaid heC'EST UN CHEVAL LE PLUS OPINIATRE DU MONDE. -Nayif heis a conceited beasthe must go his own wayreplied I.So LaFleur got off himand giving him a good sound lashthebidet tookme at my wordand away he scampered back to Montreuil.- PESTE!said La Fleur.
It is notMAL-E-PROPOS to take notice herethat though La Fleuravailedhimself but of two different terms of exclamation in thisencounter- namelyDIABLE! and PESTE! that there areneverthelessthree in the French language: like the positivecomparativeand superlativeone or the other of which serves foreveryunexpected throw of the dice in life.
LE DIABLE!which is the firstand positive degreeis generallyused uponordinary emotions of the mindwhere small things onlyfall outcontrary to your expectations; such as - the throwing oncedoublets -La Fleur's being kick'd off his horseand so forth. -Cuckoldomfor the same reasonis always - LE DIABLE!
Butincases where the cast has something provoking in itas inthat ofthe bidet's running away afterand leaving La Fleuraground injack-boots- 'tis the second degree.
And forthe third -
- But heremy heart is wrung with pity and fellow feelingwhen Ireflectwhat miseries must have been their lotand how bitterly sorefined apeople must have smartedto have forced them upon theuse of it.-
Grant meO ye powers which touch the tongue with eloquence indistress!- what ever is my CASTgrant me but decent words toexclaiminand I will give my nature way.
- But asthese were not to be had in FranceI resolved to takeevery eviljust as it befell mewithout any exclamation at all.
La Fleurwho had made no such covenant with himselffollowed thebidet withhis eyes till it was got out of sight- and thenyoumayimagineif you pleasewith what word he closed the wholeaffair.
As therewas no hunting down a frightened horse in jack-bootsthereremained no alternative but taking La Fleur either behind thechaiseorinto it. -
Ipreferred the latterand in half an hour we got to the post-house atNampont.
NAMPONT. THE DEAD ASS.
- ANDthissaid heputting the remains of a crust into his wallet- and thisshould have been thy portionsaid hehadst thou beenalive tohave shared it with me. - I thoughtby the accentit hadbeen anapostrophe to his child; but 'twas to his assand to thevery asswe had seen dead in the roadwhich had occasioned LaFleur'smisadventure. The man seemed to lament it much; and itinstantlybrought into my mind Sancho's lamentation for his; but hedid itwith more true touches of nature.
Themourner was sitting upon a stone bench at the doorwith theass'spannel and its bridle on one sidewhich he took up from timeto time-then laid them down- look'd at themand shook hishead. He then took his crust of bread out of his wallet againasif to eatit; held it some time in his hand- then laid it uponthe bit ofhis ass's bridle- looked wistfully at the littlearrangementhe had made - and then gave a sigh.
Thesimplicity of his grief drew numbers about himand La Fleuramongstthe restwhilst the horses were getting ready; as Icontinuedsitting in the post-chaiseI could see and hear overtheirheads.
- He saidhe had come last from Spainwhere he had been from thefurthestborders of Franconia; and had got so far on his returnhomewhenhis ass died. Every one seemed desirous to know whatbusinesscould have taken so old and poor a man so far a journeyfrom hisown home.
It hadpleased heavenhe saidto bless him with three sonsthefinestlads in Germany; but having in one week lost two of theeldest ofthem by the small-poxand the youngest falling ill ofthe samedistemperhe was afraid of being bereft of them all; andmade avowif heaven would not take him from him alsohe would goingratitude to St. Iago in Spain.
When themourner got thus far on his storyhe stopp'd to payNature hertribute- and wept bitterly.
He saidheaven had accepted the conditions; and that he had setout fromhis cottage with this poor creaturewho had been apatientpartner of his journey; - that it had eaten the same breadwith himall the wayand was unto him as a friend.
Every bodywho stood aboutheard the poor fellow with concern. -La Fleuroffered him money. - The mourner said he did not want it;- it wasnot the value of the ass - but the loss of him. - The asshe saidhe was assuredloved him; - and upon this told them along storyof a mischance upon their passage over the Pyreneanmountainswhich had separated them from each other three days;duringwhich time the ass had sought him as much as he had soughtthe assand that they had scarce either eaten or drank till theymet.
Thou hastone comfortfriendsaid Iat leastin the loss of thypoorbeast; I'm sure thou hast been a merciful master to him. -Alas! saidthe mournerI thought so when he was alive; - but nowthat he isdeadI think otherwise. - I fear the weight of myselfand myafflictions together have been too much for him- they haveshortenedthe poor creature's daysand I fear I have them toanswerfor. - Shame on the world! said I to myself. - Did we butlove eachother as this poor soul loved his ass - 'twould besomething.-
NAMPONT. THE POSTILION.
THEconcern which the poor fellow's story threw me into requiredsomeattention; the postilion paid not the least to itbut set offupon thePAVE in a full gallop.
Thethirstiest soul in the most sandy desert of Arabia could nothavewished more for a cup of cold waterthan mine did for graveand quietmovements; and I should have had an high opinion of thepostilionhad he but stolen off with me in something like a pensivepace. - Onthe contraryas the mourner finished his lamentationthe fellowgave an unfeeling lash to each of his beastsand setoffclattering like a thousand devils.
I calledto him as loud as I couldfor heaven's sake to go slower:- and thelouder I calledthe more unmercifully he galloped. - Thedeuce takehim and his galloping too - said I- he'll go ontearing mynerves to pieces till he has worked me into a foolishpassionand then he'll go slow that I may enjoy the sweets of it.
Thepostilion managed the point to a miracle: by the time he hadgot to thefoot of a steep hillabout half a league from Nampont- he hadput me out of temper with him- and then with myselfforbeing so.
My casethen required a different treatment; and a good rattlinggallopwould have been of real service to me. -
- Thenpritheeget on - get onmy good ladsaid I.
Thepostilion pointed to the hill. - I then tried to return back tothe storyof the poor German and his ass - but I had broke theclue-and could no more get into it againthan the postilioncould intoa trot.
- Thedeuce gosaid Iwith it all! Here am I sitting as candidlydisposedto make the best of the worstas ever wight wasand allrunscounter.
There isone sweet lenitive at least for evilswhich Nature holdsout to us:so I took it kindly at her handsand fell asleep; andthe firstword which roused me was AMIENS.
- Blessme! said Irubbing my eyes- this is the very town wheremy poorlady is to come.
THE wordswere scarce out of my mouth when the Count de L-'s post-chaisewith his sister in itdrove hastily by: she had just timeto make mea bow of recognition- and of that particular kind ofitwhichtold me she had not yet done with me. She was as good asher look;forbefore I had quite finished my supperher brother'sservantcame into the room with a billetin which she said she hadtaken theliberty to charge me with a letterwhich I was topresentmyself to Madame R- the first morning I had nothing to doat Paris. There was only addedshe was sorrybut from whatPENCHANTshe had not consideredthat she had been preventedtelling meher story- that she still owed it to me; and if myrouteshould ever lay through Brusselsand I had not by thenforgot thename of Madame de L-- that Madame de L- would be gladtodischarge her obligation.
Then Iwill meet theesaid Ifair spirit! at Brussels; - 'tisonlyreturning from Italy through Germany to Hollandby the routeofFlandershome; - 'twill scarce be ten posts out of my way; butwere itten thousand! with what a moral delight will it crown myjourneyin sharing in the sickening incidents of a tale of miserytold to meby such a sufferer? To see her weep! andthough Icannot dryup the fountain of her tearswhat an exquisitesensationis there still leftin wiping them away from off thecheeks ofthe first and fairest of womenas I'm sitting with myhandkerchiefin my hand in silence the whole night beside her?
There wasnothing wrong in the sentiment; and yet I instantlyreproachedmy heart with it in the bitterest and most reprobate ofexpressions.
It hadeveras I told the readerbeen one of the singularblessingsof my lifeto be almost every hour of it miserably inlove withsome one; and my last flame happening to be blown out bya whiff ofjealousy on the sudden turn of a cornerI had lightedit upafresh at the pure taper of Eliza but about three monthsbefore-swearingas I did itthat it should last me through thewholejourney. - Why should I dissemble the matter? I had sworn tohereternal fidelity; - she had a right to my whole heart: - todivide myaffections was to lessen them; - to expose them was torisk them:where there is risk there may be loss: - and what wiltthou haveYorickto answer to a heart so full of trust andconfidence- so goodso gentleand unreproaching!
- I willnot go to Brusselsreplied Iinterrupting myself. - Butmyimagination went on- I recalled her looks at that crisis ofourseparationwhen neither of us had power to say adieu! Ilook'd atthe picture she had tied in a black riband about my neck- andblush'd as I look'd at it. - I would have given the world tohavekiss'd it- but was ashamed. - And shall this tender flowersaid Ipressing it between my hands- shall it be smitten to itsvery root- and smittenYorick! by theewho hast promised toshelter itin thy breast?
EternalFountain of Happiness! said Ikneeling down upon theground-be thou my witness - and every pure spirit which tastesitbe mywitness alsoThat I would not travel to BrusselsunlessEliza wentalong with medid the road lead me towards heaven!
Intransports of this kindthe heartin spite of theunderstandingwill always say too much.
FORTUNEhad not smiled upon La Fleur; for he had been unsuccessfulin hisfeats of chivalry- and not one thing had offered tosignalisehis zeal for my service from the time that he had enteredinto itwhich was almost four-and-twenty hours. The poor soulburn'dwith impatience; and the Count de L-'s servant coming withtheletterbeing the first practicable occasion which offer'dLaFleur hadlaid hold of it; andin order to do honour to hismasterhad taken him into a back parlour in the aubergeandtreatedhim with a cup or two of the best wine in Picardy; and theCount deL-'s servantin returnand not to be behindhand inpolitenesswith La Fleurhad taken him back with him to theCount'shotel. La Fleur's PREVENANCY (for there was a passport inhis verylooks) soon set every servant in the kitchen at ease withhim; andas a Frenchmanwhatever be his talentshas no sort ofprudery inshowing themLa Fleurin less than five minuteshadpulled outhis fifeand leading off the dance himself with thefirstnoteset the FILLE DE CHAMBREthe MAITRE D'HOTELthe cookthescullionand all the house-holddogs and catsbesides an oldmonkeyadancing: I suppose there never was a merrier kitchensince theflood.
Madame deL-in passing from her brother's apartments to her ownhearing somuch jollity below stairsrung up her FILLE DE CHAMBREto askabout it; andhearing it was the English gentleman'sservantwho had set the whole house merry with his pipesheorderedhim up.
As thepoor fellow could not present himself emptyhe had loadedhimself ingoing up stairs with a thousand compliments to Madame deL-on thepart of his master- added a long apocrypha ofinquiriesafter Madame de L-'s health- told herthat Monsieurhis masterwas AU DESESPOIRE for her re-establishment from thefatiguesof her journey- andto close allthat Monsieur hadreceivedthe letter which Madame had done him the honour - And hehas doneme the honoursaid Madame de L-interrupting La Fleurto send abillet in return.
Madame deL- had said this with such a tone of reliance upon thefactthatLa Fleur had not power to disappoint her expectations; -hetrembled for my honour- and possibly might not altogether beunconcernedfor his ownas a man capable of being attached to amaster whocould be wanting EN EGARDS VIS E VIS D'UNE FEMME! sothat whenMadame de L- asked La Fleur if he had brought a letter-O QU'OUIsaid La Fleur: so laying down his hat upon the groundand takinghold of the flap of his right side pocket with his lefthandhebegan to search for the letter with his right; - thencontrariwise.- DIABLE! then sought every pocket - pocket bypocketroundnot forgetting his fob: - PESTE! - then La Fleuremptiedthem upon the floor- pulled out a dirty cravat- ahandkerchief- a comb- a whip lash- a nightcap- then gave apeep intohis hat- QUELLE ETOURDERIE! He had left the letterupon thetable in the auberge; - he would run for itand be backwith it inthree minutes.
I had justfinished my supper when La Fleur came in to give me anaccount ofhis adventure: he told the whole story simply as it was:and onlyadded that if Monsieur had forgot (PAR HAZARD) to answerMadame'sletterthe arrangement gave him an opportunity to recoverthe FAUXPAS; - and if notthat things were only as they were.
Now I wasnot altogether sure of my ETIQUETTEwhether I ought tohave wroteor no; - but if I had- a devil himself could not havebeenangry: 'twas but the officious zeal of a well meaning creaturefor myhonour; andhowever he might have mistook the road- orembarrassedme in so doing- his heart was in no fault- I wasunder nonecessity to write; - andwhat weighed more than all-he did notlook as if he had done amiss.
- 'Tis allvery wellLa Fleursaid I. - 'Twas sufficient. LaFleur flewout of the room like lightningand returned with peninkandpaperin his hand; andcoming up to the tablelaid themclosebefore mewith such a delight in his countenancethat Icould nothelp taking up the pen.
I beganand began again; andthough I had nothing to sayand thatnothingmight have been expressed in half a dozen linesI madehalf adozen different beginningsand could no way please myself.
In shortI was in no mood to write.
La Fleurstepp'd out and brought a little water in a glass todilute myink- then fetch'd sand and seal-wax. - It was all one;I wroteand blottedand tore offand burntand wrote again. -LE DIABLEL'EMPORTE! said Ihalf to myself- I cannot write thisself-sameletterthrowing the pen down despairingly as I said it.
As soon asI had cast down my penLa Fleur advanced with the mostrespectfulcarriage up to the tableand making a thousandapologiesfor the liberty he was going to taketold me he had aletter inhis pocket wrote by a drummer in his regiment to acorporal'swifewhich he durst say would suit the occasion.
I had amind to let the poor fellow have his humour. - Thenpritheesaid Ilet me see it.
La Fleurinstantly pulled out a little dirty pocket book cramm'dfull ofsmall letters and billet-doux in a sad conditionandlaying itupon the tableand then untying the string which heldthem alltogetherrun them overone by onetill he came to theletter inquestion- LA VOILA! said heclapping his hands: sounfoldingit firsthe laid it open before meand retired threesteps fromthe table whilst I read it.
JE suispenetre de la douleur la plus viveet reduit en meme tempsaudesespoir par ce retour imprevu du Caporal qui rend notreentrevuede ce soir la chose du monde la plus impossible.
Mais vivela joie! et toute la mienne sera de penser e vous.
L'amourn'est RIEN sans sentiment.
Et lesentiment est encore MOINS sans amour.
On ditqu'on ne doit jamais se desesperer.
On ditaussi que Monsieur le Caporal monte la garde Mercredi: alorsce ceramon tour.
CHACUN ESON TOUR.
Enattendant - Vive l'amour! et vive la bagatelle!
Avec tousles sentimens les plus respectueux et les plus tendres
It was butchanging the Corporal into the Count- and sayingnothingabout mounting guard on Wednesday- and the letter wasneitherright nor wrong: - soto gratify the poor fellowwhostoodtrembling for my honourhis ownand the honour of hisletter-I took the cream gently off itand whipping it up in myown wayIseal'd it up and sent him with it to Madame de L-; - andthe nextmorning we pursued our journey to Paris.
WHEN a mancan contest the point by dint of equipageand carry allonfloundering before him with half a dozen of lackies and a coupleof cooks -'tis very well in such a place as Paris- he may drivein atwhich end of a street he will.
A poorprince who is weak in cavalryand whose whole infantry doesnot exceeda single manhad best quit the fieldand signalizehimself inthe cabinetif he can get up into it; - I say UP INTOIT - forthere is no descending perpendicular amongst 'em with a"MEVOICI! MES ENFANS" - here I am - whatever many may think.
I own myfirst sensationsas soon as I was left solitary and alonein my ownchamber in the hotelwere far from being so flatteringas I hadprefigured them. I walked up gravely to the window in mydustyblack coatand looking through the glass saw all the worldin yellowblueand greenrunning at the ring of pleasure. - Theold withbroken lancesand in helmets which had lost theirvizards; -the young in armour bright which shone like goldbeplumedwith each gay feather of the east- all- alltiltingat it likefascinated knights in tournaments of yore for fame andlove. -
AlaspoorYorick! cried Iwhat art thou doing here? On the veryfirstonset of all this glittering clatter thou art reduced to anatom; -seek- seek some winding alleywith a tourniquet at theend of itwhere chariot never rolled or flambeau shot its rays; -there thoumayest solace thy soul in converse sweet with some kindgrisetteof a barber's wifeand get into such coteries! -
- May Iperish! if I dosaid Ipulling out the letter which I hadto presentto Madame de R- - I'll wait upon this ladythe veryfirstthing I do. So I called La Fleur to go seek me a barberdirectly- and come back and brush my coat.
THE WIG. PARIS.
WHEN thebarber camehe absolutely refused to have any thing to dowith mywig: 'twas either above or below his art: I had nothing todo but totake one ready made of his own recommendation.
- But Ifearfriend! said Ithis buckle won't stand. - You mayemerge itreplied heinto the oceanand it will stand. -
What agreat scale is every thing upon in this city thought I. -The utmoststretch of an English periwig-maker's ideas could havegone nofurther than to have "dipped it into a pail of water." -Whatdifference! 'tis like Time to Eternity!
I confessI do hate all cold conceptionsas I do the puny ideaswhichengender them; and am generally so struck with the greatworks ofnaturethat for my own partif I could help itI neverwould makea comparison less than a mountain at least. All thatcan besaid against the French sublimein this instance of itisthis: -That the grandeur is MORE in the WORDand LESS in theTHING. No doubtthe ocean fills the mind with vast ideas; butParisbeing so far inlandit was not likely I should run post ahundredmiles out of itto try the experiment; - the Parisianbarbermeant nothing. -
The pailof water standing beside the great deepmakescertainlybut asorry figure in speech; - but'twill be said- it has oneadvantage- 'tis in the next roomand the truth of the buckle maybe triedin itwithout more adoin a single moment.
In honesttruthand upon a more candid revision of the matterTHEFRENCHEXPRESSION PROFESSES MORE THAN IT PERFORMS.
I think Ican see the precise and distinguishing marks of nationalcharactersmore in these nonsensical MINUTIAE than in the mostimportantmatters of state; where great men of all nations talk andstalk somuch alikethat I would not give ninepence to chooseamongstthem.
I was solong in getting from under my barber's handsthat it wastoo lateto think of going with my letter to Madame R- that night:but when aman is once dressed at all points for going outhisreflectionsturn to little account; so taking down the name of theHotel deModenewhere I lodgedI walked forth without anydeterminationwhere to go; - I shall consider of thatsaid Ias Iwalkalong.
HAILyesmall sweet courtesies of lifefor smooth do ye make theroad ofit! like grace and beautywhich beget inclinations to loveat firstsight: 'tis ye who open this door and let the stranger in.
- PrayMadamesaid Ihave the goodness to tell me which way Imust turnto go to the Opera Comique? - Most willinglyMonsieursaid shelaying aside her work. -
I hadgiven a cast with my eye into half a dozen shopsas I camealonginsearch of a face not likely to be disordered by such aninterruption:till at lastthishitting my fancyI had walkedin.
She wasworking a pair of rufflesas she sat in a low chaironthe farside of the shopfacing the door.
- TRESVOLONTIERSmost willinglysaid shelaying her work downupon achair next herand rising up from the low chair she wassittinginwith so cheerful a movementand so cheerful a lookthat had Ibeen laying out fifty louis d'ors with herI shouldhave said- "This woman is grateful."
You mustturnMonsieursaid shegoing with me to the door of theshopandpointing the way down the street I was to take- youmust turnfirst to your left hand- MAIS PRENEZ GARDE -there aretwo turns;and be so good as to take the second - then go down alittle wayand you'll see a church: andwhen you are past itgiveyourselfthe trouble to turn directly to the rightand that willlead youto the foot of the Pont Neufwhich you must cross - andthere anyone will do himself the pleasure to show you. -
Sherepeated her instructions three times over to mewith the samegoodnatur'dpatience the third time as the first; - and if TONESANDMANNERS have a meaningwhich certainly they haveunless toheartswhich shut them out- she seemed really interested that Ishould notlose myself.
I will notsuppose it was the woman's beautynotwithstanding shewas thehandsomest grisetteI thinkI ever sawwhich had much todo withthe sense I had of her courtesy; only I rememberwhen Itold herhow much I was obliged to herthat I looked very full inher eyes- and that I repeated my thanks as often as she had doneherinstructions.
I had notgot ten paces from the doorbefore I found I had forgoteverytittle of what she had said; - so looking backand seeingher stillstanding in the door of the shopas if to look whether Iwent rightor not- I returned back to ask herwhether the firstturn wasto my right or left- for that I had absolutely forgot. -Is itpossible! said shehalf laughing. 'Tis very possiblereplied Iwhen a man is thinking more of a woman than of her goodadvice.
As thiswas the real truth - she took itas every woman takes amatter ofrightwith a slight curtsey.
-ATTENDEZ! said shelaying her hand upon my arm to detain mewhilst shecalled a lad out of the back shop to get ready a parcelofgloves. I am just going to send himsaid shewith a packetinto thatquarterand if you will have the complaisance to stepinitwill be ready in a momentand he shall attend you to theplace. -So I walk'd in with her to the far side of the shop: andtaking upthe ruffle in my hand which she laid upon the chairasif I had amind to sitshe sat down herself in her low chairandIinstantly sat myself down beside her.
- He willbe readyMonsieursaid shein a moment. - And in thatmomentreplied Imost willingly would I say something very civilto you forall these courtesies. Any one may do a casual act ofgoodnaturebut a continuation of them shows it is a part of thetemperature;and certainlyadded Iif it is the same blood whichcomes fromthe heart which descends to the extremes (touching herwrist) Iam sure you must have one of the best pulses of any womanin theworld. - Feel itsaid sheholding out her arm. So layingdown myhatI took hold of her fingers in one handand appliedthe twoforefingers of my other to the artery. -
- Would toheaven! my dear Eugeniusthou hadst passed byandbeheld mesitting in my black coatand in my lack-a-day-sicalmannercounting the throbs of itone by onewith as much truedevotionas if I had been watching the critical ebb or flow of herfever. -How wouldst thou have laugh'd and moralized upon my newprofession!- and thou shouldst have laugh'd and moralized on. -Trust memy dear EugeniusI should have said"There are worseoccupationsin this world THAN FEELING A WOMAN'S PULSE." - But agrisette's!thou wouldst have said- and in an open shop! Yorick-
- So muchthe better: for when my views are directEugeniusIcare notif all the world saw me feel it.
I HADcounted twenty pulsationsand was going on fast towards thefortiethwhen her husbandcoming unexpected from a back parlourinto theshopput me a little out of my reckoning. - 'Twas nobodybut herhusbandshe said; - so I began a fresh score. - Monsieuris sogoodquoth sheas he pass'd by usas to give himself thetrouble offeeling my pulse. - The husband took off his hatandmaking mea bowsaidI did him too much honour - and having saidthatheput on his hat and walk'd out.
Good God!said I to myselfas he went out- and can this man bethehusband of this woman!
Let it nottorment the few who know what must have been the groundsof thisexclamationif I explain it to those who do not.
In Londona shopkeeper and a shopkeeper's wife seem to be one boneand oneflesh: in the several endowments of mind and bodysometimesthe onesometimes the other has itso asin generalto be upona parand totally with each other as nearly as man andwife needto do.
In Paristhere are scarce two orders of beings more different: forthelegislative and executive powers of the shop not resting in thehusbandhe seldom comes there: - in some dark and dismal roombehindhesits commerce-lessin his thrum nightcapthe samerough sonof Nature that Nature left him.
The geniusof a peoplewhere nothing but the monarchy is SALIQUEhavingceded this departmentwith sundry otherstotally to thewomen-by a continual higgling with customers of all ranks andsizes frommorning to nightlike so many rough pebbles shook longtogetherin a bagby amicable collisions they have worn down theirasperitiesand sharp anglesand not only become round and smoothbut willreceivesome of thema polish like a brilliant: -MonsieurLE MARI is little better than the stone under your foot.
- Surely- surelyman! it is not good for thee to sit alone: -thou wastmade for social intercourse and gentle greetings; andthisimprovement of our natures from it I appeal to as my evidence.
- And howdoes it beatMonsieur? said she. - With all thebenignitysaid Ilooking quietly in her eyesthat I expected. -She wasgoing to say something civil in return - but the lad cameinto theshop with the gloves. - A PROPOSsaid II want a coupleof pairsmyself.
THEbeautiful grisette rose up when I said thisand going behindthecounterreach'd down a parcel and untied it: I advanced to theside overagainst her: they were all too large. The beautifulgrisettemeasured them one by one across my hand. - It would notaltertheir dimensions. - She begg'd I would try a single pairwhichseemed to be the least. - She held it open; - my hand slippedinto it atonce. - It will not dosaid Ishaking my head alittle. -Nosaid shedoing the same thing.
There arecertain combined looks of simple subtlety- where whimand senseand seriousnessand nonsenseare so blendedthat allthelanguages of Babel set loose togethercould not express them;- they arecommunicated and caught so instantaneouslythat you canscarce saywhich party is the infector. I leave it to your men ofwords toswell pages about it - it is enough in the present to sayagainthegloves would not do; sofolding our hands within ourarmsweboth lolled upon the counter - it was narrowand therewas justroom for the parcel to lay between us.
Thebeautiful grisette looked sometimes at the glovesthensidewaysto the windowthen at the gloves- and then at me. Iwas notdisposed to break silence: - I followed her example: soIlooked atthe glovesthen to the windowthen at the glovesandthen ather- and so on alternately.
I found Ilost considerably in every attack: - she had a quickblack eyeand shot through two such long and silken eyelashes withsuchpenetrationthat she look'd into my very heart and reins. -It mayseem strangebut I could actually feel she did. -
It is nomattersaid Itaking up a couple of the pairs next meandputting them into my pocket.
I wassensible the beautiful grisette had not asked above a singlelivreabove the price. - I wish'd she had asked a livre moreandwaspuzzling my brains how to bring the matter about. - Do youthinkmydear Sirsaid shemistaking my embarrassmentthat Icould aska sous too much of a stranger - and of a stranger whosepolitenessmore than his want of gloveshas done me the honour tolayhimself at my mercy? - M'EN CROYEZ CAPABLE? - Faith! not Isaid I;and if you wereyou are welcome. So counting the moneyinto herhandand with a lower bow than one generally makes to ashopkeeper'swifeI went outand her lad with his parcel followedme.
THERE wasnobody in the box I was let into but a kindly old Frenchofficer. I love the characternot only because I honour the manwhosemanners are softened by a profession which makes bad menworse; butthat I once knew one- for he is no more- and whyshould Inot rescue one page from violation by writing his name initandtelling the world it was Captain Tobias Shandythe dearestof myflock and friendswhose philanthropy I never think of atthis longdistance from his death - but my eyes gush out withtears. For his sake I have a predilection for the whole corps ofveterans;and so I strode over the two back rows of benches andplacedmyself beside him.
The oldofficer was reading attentively a small pamphletit mightbe thebook of the operawith a large pair of spectacles. As soonas I satdownhe took his spectacles offand putting them into ashagreencasereturn'd them and the book into his pocket together.I halfrose upand made him a bow.
Translatethis into any civilized language in the world - the senseis this:
"Here'sa poor stranger come into the box - he seems as if he knewnobody;and is never likelywas he to be seven years in Parisifevery manhe comes near keeps his spectacles upon his nose: - 'tisshuttingthe door of conversation absolutely in his face - andusing himworse than a German."
The Frenchofficer might as well have said it all aloud: and if hehadIshould in course have put the bow I made him into Frenchtooandtold him"I was sensible of his attentionand return'dhim athousand thanks for it."
There isnot a secret so aiding to the progress of socialityas toget masterof this SHORT HANDand to be quick in rendering theseveralturns of looks and limbs with all their inflections anddelineationsinto plain words. For my own partby long habitudeI do it somechanicallythatwhen I walk the streets of LondonIgotranslating all the way; and have more than once stood behind inthecirclewhere not three words have been saidand have broughtoff twentydifferent dialogues with mewhich I could have fairlywrote downand sworn to.
I wasgoing one evening to Martini's concert at Milanandwasjustentering the door of the hallwhen the Marquisina di F- wascoming outin a sort of a hurry: - she was almost upon me before Isaw her;so I gave a spring to once side to let her pass. - She haddone thesameand on the same side too; so we ran our headstogether:she instantly got to the other side to get out: I wasjust asunfortunate as she had beenfor I had sprung to that sideandopposed her passage again. - We both flew together to the othersideandthen back- and so on: - it was ridiculous: we bothblush'dintolerably: so I did at last the thing I should have doneat first;- I stood stock-stilland the Marquisina had no moredifficulty. I had no power to go into the roomtill I had madeher somuch reparation as to wait and follow her with my eye to theend of thepassage. She look'd back twiceand walk'd along itrathersidewaysas if she would make room for any one coming upstairs topass her. - Nosaid I - that's a vile translation: theMarquisinahas a right to the best apology I can make herand thatopening isleft for me to do it in; - so I ran and begg'd pardonfor theembarrassment I had given hersaying it was my intentionto havemade her way. She answeredshe was guided by the sameintentiontowards me; - so we reciprocally thank'd each other. Shewas at thetop of the stairs; and seeing no CICISBEO near herIbegg'd tohand her to her coach; - so we went down the stairsstoppingat every third step to talk of the concert and theadventure.- Upon my wordMadamesaid Iwhen I had handed herinI madesix different efforts to let you go out. - And I madesixeffortsreplied sheto let you enter. - I wish to heaven youwould makea seventhsaid I. - With all my heartsaid shemakingroom. -Life is too short to be long about the forms of it- so Iinstantlystepp'd inand she carried me home with her. - And whatbecame ofthe concertSt. Ceciliawho I suppose was at itknowsmore thanI.
I willonly addthat the connexion which arose out of thetranslationgave me more pleasure than any one I had the honour tomake inItaly.
I HADnever heard the remark made by any one in my lifeexcept byone; andwho that was will probably come out in this chapter; sothat beingpretty much unprepossessedthere must have been groundsfor whatstruck me the moment I cast my eyes over the parterre-and thatwasthe unaccountable sport of Nature in forming suchnumbers ofdwarfs. - No doubt she sports at certain times in almosteverycorner of the world; but in Paris there is no end to heramusements.- The goddess seems almost as merry as she is wise.
As Icarried my idea out of the Opera Comique with meI measuredevery bodyI saw walking in the streets by it. - Melancholyapplication!especially where the size was extremely little- thefaceextremely dark- the eyes quick- the nose long- the teethwhite-the jaw prominent- to see so many miserablesby forceofaccidents driven out of their own proper class into the veryverge ofanotherwhich it gives me pain to write down: - everythird mana pigmy! - some by rickety heads and hump backs; - othersby bandylegs; - a third set arrested by the hand of Nature in thesixth andseventh years of their growth; - a fourthin theirperfectand natural state like dwarf apple trees; from the firstrudimentsand stamina of their existencenever meant to growhigher.
A MedicalTraveller might say'tis owing to undue bandages; - aSpleneticoneto want of air; - and an Inquisitive Travellertofortifythe systemmay measure the height of their houses- thenarrownessof their streetsand in how few feet square in thesixth andseventh stories such numbers of the bourgeoisie eat andsleeptogether; but I remember Mr. Shandy the elderwho accountedfornothing like any body elsein speaking one evening of thesemattersaverred that childrenlike other animalsmight beincreasedalmost to any sizeprovided they came right into theworld; butthe misery wasthe citizens of were Paris so coop'd upthat theyhad not actually room enough to get them. - I do not callit gettinganythingsaid he; - 'tis getting nothing. - Naycontinuedherising in his argument'tis getting worse thannothingwhen all you have got after twenty or five and twentyyears ofthe tenderest care and most nutritious aliment bestowedupon itshall not at last be as high as my leg. NowMr. Shandybeing veryshortthere could be nothing more said of it.
As this isnot a work of reasoningI leave the solution as I founditandcontent myself with the truth only of the remarkwhich isverifiedin every lane and by-lane of Paris. I was walking downthat whichleads from the Carousal to the Palais Royalandobservinga little boy in some distress at the side of the gutterwhich randown the middle of itI took hold of his hand and help'dhim over. Upon turning up his face to look at him afterIperceivedhe was about forty. - Never mindsaid Isome good bodywill do asmuch for me when I am ninety.
I feelsome little principles within me which incline me to bemercifultowards this poor blighted part of my specieswho haveneithersize nor strength to get on in the world. - I cannot bearto see oneof them trod upon; and had scarce got seated beside myold Frenchofficerere the disgust was exercisedby seeing thevery thinghappen under the box we sat in.
At the endof the orchestraand betwixt that and the first sideboxthereis a small esplanade leftwherewhen the house isfullnumbers of all ranks take sanctuary. Though you standas intheparterreyou pay the same price as in the orchestra. A poordefencelessbeing of this order had got thrust somehow or otherinto thisluckless place; - the night was hotand he wassurroundedby beings two feet and a half higher than himself. Thedwarfsuffered inexpressibly on all sides; but the thing whichincommodedhim mostwas a tall corpulent Germannear seven feethighwhostood directly betwixt him and all possibility of hisseeingeither the stage or the actors. The poor dwarf did all hecould toget a peep at what was going forwardsby seeking for somelittleopening betwixt the German's arm and his bodytrying firston onesidethen the other; but the German stood square in themostunaccommodating posture that can be imagined: - the dwarfmight aswell have been placed at the bottom of the deepest draw-well inParis; so he civilly reached up his hand to the German'ssleeveand told him his distress. - The German turn'd his headbacklooked down upon him as Goliah did upon David- andunfeelinglyresumed his posture.
I was justthen taking a pinch of snuff out of my monk's littlehorn box.- And how would thy meek and courteous spiritmy dearmonk! sotemper'd to BEAR AND FORBEAR! - how sweetly would it havelent anear to this poor soul's complaint!
The oldFrench officerseeing me lift up my eyes with an emotionas I madethe apostrophetook the liberty to ask me what was thematter? -I told him the story in three words; and addedhowinhuman itwas.
By thistime the dwarf was driven to extremesand in his firsttransportswhich are generally unreasonablehad told the Germanhe wouldcut off his long queue with his knife. - The German look'dbackcoollyand told him he was welcomeif he could reach it.
An injurysharpen'd by an insultbe it to whom it willmakesevery manof sentiment a party: I could have leap'd out of the boxto haveredressed it. - The old French officer did it with muchlessconfusion; for leaning a little overand nodding to asentineland pointing at the same time with his finger at thedistress- the sentinel made his way to it. - There was nooccasionto tell the grievance- the thing told himself; sothrustingback the German instantly with his musket- he took thepoor dwarfby the handand placed him before him. - This is noble!said Iclapping my hands together. - And yet you would not permitthissaidthe old officerin England.
- InEnglanddear Sirsaid IWE SIT ALL AT OUR EASE.
The oldFrench officer would have set me at unity with myselfincase I hadbeen at variance- by saying it was a BON MOT; - andas a BONMOT is always worth something at Parishe offered me apinch ofsnuff.
THE ROSE. PARIS.
IT WAS nowmy turn to ask the old French officer "What was thematter?"for a cry of "HAUSSEZ LES MAINSMONSIEUR L'ABBE!" re-echoedfrom a dozen different parts of the parterrewas asunintelligibleto meas my apostrophe to the monk had been to him.
He told meit was some poor Abbe in one of the upper logeswhohesupposedhad got planted perdu behind a couple of grisettes inorder tosee the operaand that the parterre espying himwereinsistingupon his holding up both his hands during therepresentation.- And can it be supposedsaid Ithat anecclesiasticwould pick the grisettes' pockets? The old Frenchofficersmiledand whispering in my earopened a door ofknowledgewhich I had no idea of.
Good God!said Iturning pale with astonishment - is it possiblethat apeople so smit with sentiment should at the same time be souncleanand so unlike themselves- QUELLE GROSSIERTE! added I.
The Frenchofficer told meit was an illiberal sarcasm at thechurchwhich had begun in the theatre about the time the Tartuffewas givenin it by Moliere: but like other remains of Gothicmannerswas declining. - Every nationcontinued hehave theirrefinementsand GROSSIERTESin which they take the leadand loseit of oneanother by turns: - that he had been in most countriesbut neverin one where he found not some delicacieswhich othersseemed towant. LE POUR ET LE CONTRE SE TROUVENT EN CHAQUE NATION;there is abalancesaid heof good and bad everywhere; andnothingbut the knowing it is socan emancipate one half of theworld fromthe prepossession which it holds against the other: -that theadvantage of travelas it regarded the SCAVOIR VIVREwasby seeinga great deal both of men and manners; it taught us mutualtoleration;and mutual tolerationconcluded hemaking me a bowtaught usmutual love.
The oldFrench officer delivered this with an air of such candourand goodsenseas coincided with my first favourable impressionsof hischaracter: - I thought I loved the man; but I fear I mistooktheobject; - 'twas my own way of thinking - the difference wasIcould nothave expressed it half so well.
It isalike troublesome to both the rider and his beast- if thelattergoes pricking up his earsand starting all the way at everyobjectwhich he never saw before. - I have as little torment ofthis kindas any creature alive; and yet I honestly confessthatmany athing gave me painand that I blush'd at many a word thefirstmonth- which I found inconsequent and perfectly innocentthesecond.
Madame doRamboulietafter an acquaintance of about six weeks withherhaddone me the honour to take me in her coach about twoleaguesout of town. - Of all womenMadame de Rambouliet is themostcorrect; and I never wish to see one of more virtues andpurity ofheart. - In our return backMadame de Rambouliet desiredme to pullthe cord. - I asked her if she wanted anything - RIENQUE POURPISSERsaid Madame de Rambouliet.
Grievenotgentle travellerto let Madame de Rambouliet p-ss on.- Andyefair mystic nymphs! go each one PLUCK YOUR ROSEandscatterthem in your path- for Madame de Rambouliet did no more.- I handedMadame de Rambouliet out of the coach; and had I beenthe priestof the chaste CastaliaI could not have served at herfountainwith a more respectful decorum.
THE FILLEDE CHAMBRE. PARIS.
WHAT theold French officer had delivered upon travellingbringingPolonius'sadvice to his son upon the same subject into my head-and thatbringing in Hamletand Hamlet the rest of Shakespeare'sworksIstopp'd at the Quai de Conti in my return hometopurchasethe whole set.
Thebookseller said he had not a set in the world. COMMENT! saidItakingone up out of a set which lay upon the counter betwixtus. - Hesaid they were sent him only to be got boundand were tobe sentback to Versailles in the morning to the Count de B-.
- And doesthe Count de B-said Iread Shakespeare? C'EST UNESPRITFORTreplied the bookseller. - He loves English books! andwhat ismore to his honourMonsieurhe loves the English too.You speakthis so civillysaid Ithat it is enough to oblige anEnglishmanto lay out a louis d'or or two at your shop. - Thebooksellermade a bowand was going to say somethingwhen a youngdecentgirl about twentywho by her air and dress seemed to beFILLE DECHAMBRE to some devout woman of fashioncome into theshop andasked for LES EGAREMENTS DU COEUR ET DE L'ESPRIT: thebooksellergave her the book directly; she pulled out a littlegreensatin purse run round with a riband of the same colourandputtingher finger and thumb into itshe took out the money andpaid forit. As I had nothing more to stay me in the shopwe bothwalk'd outat the door together.
- And whathave you to domy dearsaid Iwith THE WANDERINGS OFTHE HEARTwho scarce know yet you have one? nortill love hasfirst toldyou itor some faithless shepherd has made it achecanst thouever be sure it is so. - LE DIEU M'EN GARDE! said thegirl. -With reasonsaid Ifor if it is a good one'tis pity itshould bestolen; 'tis a little treasure to theeand gives abetter airto your facethan if it was dress'd out with pearls.
The younggirl listened with a submissive attentionholding hersatinpurse by its riband in her hand all the time. - 'Tis a verysmall onesaid Itaking hold of the bottom of it - she held ittowards me- and there is very little in itmy dearsaid I; butbe but asgood as thou art handsomeand heaven will fill it. Ihad aparcel of crowns in my hand to pay for Shakespeare; andasshe hadlet go the purse entirelyI put a single one in; andtying upthe riband in a bow-knotreturned it to her.
The younggirl made me more a humble courtesy than a low one: -'twas oneof those quietthankful sinkingswhere the spirit bowsitselfdown- the body does no more than tell it. I never gave agirl acrown in my life which gave me half the pleasure.
My advicemy dearwould not have been worth a pin to yousaid Iif I hadnot given this along with it: but nowwhen you see thecrownyou'll remember it; - so don'tmy dearlay it out inribands.
Upon mywordSirsaid the girlearnestlyI am incapable; - insayingwhichas is usual in little bargains of honourshe gave meher hand:- EN VERITEMONSIEURJE METTRAI CET ARGENT EPARTsaidshe.
When avirtuous convention is made betwixt man and womanitsanctifiestheir most private walks: sonotwithstanding it wasduskyyetas both our roads lay the same waywe made no scrupleof walkingalong the Quai de Conti together.
She mademe a second courtesy in setting offand before we gottwentyyards from the dooras if she had not done enough beforeshe made asort of a little stop to tell me again - she thank'd me.
It was asmall tributeI told herwhich I could not avoid payingto virtueand would not be mistaken in the person I had beenrenderingit to for the world; - but I see innocencemy dearinyour face- and foul befall the man who ever lays a snare in itsway!
The girlseem'd affected some way or other with what I said; - shegave a lowsigh: - I found I was not empowered to enquire at allafter it- so said nothing more till I got to the corner of theRue deNeverswherewe were to part.
- But isthis the waymy dearsaid Ito the Hotel de Modene?She toldme it was; - or that I might go by the Rue de Gueneguaultwhich wasthe next turn. - Then I'll gomy dearby the Rue deGueneguaultsaid Ifor two reasons; firstI shall please myselfand nextI shall give you the protection of my company as far onyour wayas I can. The girl was sensible I was civil - and saidshe wishedthe Hotel de Modene was in the Rue de St. Pierre. - Youlivethere? said I. - She told me she was FILLE DE CHAMBRE toMadame R-.- Good God! said I'tis the very lady for whom I havebrought aletter from Amiens. - The girl told me that Madame R-shebelievedexpected a stranger with a letterand was impatientto seehim: - so I desired the girl to present my compliments toMadame R-and sayI would certainly wait upon her in the morning.
We stoodstill at the corner of the Rue de Nevers whilst thispass'd. -We then stopped a moment whilst she disposed of herEGAREMENTSDU COEUR &c. more commodiously than carrying them in herhand -they were two volumes: so I held the second for her whilstshe putthe first into her pocket; and then she held her pocketand I putin the other after it.
'Tis sweetto feel by what fine spun threads our affections aredrawntogether.
We set offafreshand as she took her third stepthe girl put herhandwithin my arm. - I was just bidding her- but she did it ofherselfwith that undeliberating simplicitywhich show'd it wasout of herhead that she had never seen me before. For my ownpartIfelt the conviction of consanguinity so stronglythat Icould nothelp turning half round to look in her faceand see if Icouldtrace out any thing in it of a family likeness. - Tut! saidIare wenot all relations?
When wearrived at the turning up of the Rue de GueneguaultIstopp'd tobid her adieu for good and all: the girl would thank meagain formy company and kindness. - She bid me adieu twice. - Irepeatedit as often; and so cordial was the parting between usthat hadit happened any where elseI'm not sure but I should havesigned itwith a kiss of charityas warm and holy as an apostle.
But inParisas none kiss each other but the men- I didwhatamountedto the same thing -
- I bidGod bless her.
WHEN I gothome to my hotelLa Fleur told me I had been enquiredafter bythe Lieutenant de Police. - The deuce take it! said I- Iknow thereason. It is time the reader should know itfor in theorder ofthings in which it happenedit was omitted: not that itwas out ofmy head; but that had I told it then it might have beenforgottennow; - and now is the time I want it.
I had leftLondon with so much precipitationthat it never enter'dmy mindthat we were at war with France; and had reached Doverandlookedthrough my glass at the hills beyond Boulognebefore theideapresented itself; and with this in its trainthat there wasno gettingthere without a passport. Go but to the end of astreetIhave a mortal aversion for returning back no wiser than Iset out;and as this was one of the greatest efforts I had evermade forknowledgeI could less bear the thoughts of it: sohearingthe Count de - had hired the packetI begg'd he would takeme in hissuite. The Count had some little knowledge of mesomadelittle or no difficulty- only saidhis inclination to serveme couldreach no farther than Calaisas he was to return by wayofBrussels to Paris; howeverwhen I had once pass'd thereImight getto Paris without interruption; but that in Paris I mustmakefriends and shift for myself. - Let me get to ParisMonsieurle Countsaid I- and I shall do very well. So I embark'dandneverthought more of the matter.
When LaFleur told me the Lieutenant de Police had been enquiringafter me- the thing instantly recurred; - and by the time LaFleur hadwell told methe master of the hotel came into my roomto tell methe same thingwith this addition to itthat mypassporthad been particularly asked after: the master of the hotelconcludedwith sayingHe hoped I had one. - Not Ifaith! said I.
The masterof the hotel retired three steps from meas from aninfectedpersonas I declared this; - and poor La Fleur advancedthreesteps towards meand with that sort of movement which a goodsoul makesto succour a distress'd one: - the fellow won my heartby it; andfrom that single trait I knew his character asperfectlyand could rely upon it as firmlyas if he had served mewithfidelity for seven years.
MONSEIGNEUR! cried the master of the hotel; but recollectinghimself ashe made the exclamationhe instantly changed the toneof it. -If Monsieursaid hehas not a passport (APPAREMMENT) inalllikelihood he has friends in Paris who can procure him one. -Not that Iknow ofquoth Iwith an air of indifference. - ThenCERTESreplied heyou'll be sent to the Bastile or the ChateletAU MOINS.- Poo! said Ithe King of France is a good natur'd soul:- he'llhurt nobody. - CELA N'EMPECHE PASsaid he - you willcertainlybe sent to the Bastile to-morrow morning. - But I'vetaken yourlodgings for a monthanswer'd Iand I'll not quit thema daybefore the time for all the kings of France in the world. LaFleurwhispered in my earThat nobody could oppose the king ofFrance.
PARDI!said my hostCES MESSIEURS ANGLOIS SONT DES GENS TRESEXTRAORDINAIRES;- andhaving both said and sworn it- he wentout.
THEPASSPORT. THE HOTEL AT PARIS.
I COULDnot find in my heart to torture La Fleur's with a seriouslook uponthe subject of my embarrassmentwhich was the reason Ihadtreated it so cavalierly: and to show him how light it lay uponmy mindIdropt the subject entirely; and whilst he waited upon meat suppertalk'd to him with more than usual gaiety about Parisand of theOpera Comique. - La Fleur had been there himselfandhadfollowed me through the streets as far as the bookseller'sshop; butseeing me come out with the young FILLE DE CHAMBREandthat wewalk'd down the Quai de Conti togetherLa Fleur deem'd itunnecessaryto follow me a step further; - so making his ownreflectionsupon ithe took a shorter cut- and got to the hotelin time tobe inform'd of the affair of the police against myarrival.
As soon asthe honest creature had taken awayand gone down to suphimselfIthen began to think a little seriously about mysituation.-
- AndhereI knowEugeniusthou wilt smile at the remembrance ofa shortdialogue which passed betwixt us the moment I was going toset out: -I must tell it here.
Eugeniusknowing that I was as little subject to be overburden'dwith moneyas thoughthad drawn me aside to interrogate me howmuch I hadtaken care for. Upon telling him the exact sumEugeniusshook his headand said it would not do; so pull'd outhis pursein order to empty it into mine. - I've enough inconscienceEugeniussaid I. - IndeedYorickyou have notrepliedEugenius; I know France and Italy better than you. - Butyou don'tconsiderEugeniussaid Irefusing his offerthatbefore Ihave been three days in ParisI shall take care to say ordosomething or other for which I shall get clapp'd up into theBastileand that I shall live there a couple of months entirely atthe kingof France's expense. - I beg pardonsaid Eugenius drily:really Ihad forgot that resource.
Now theevent I treated gaily came seriously to my door.
Is itfollyor nonchalanceor philosophyor pertinacity - orwhat is itin methatafter allwhen La Fleur had gone downstairsand I was quite aloneI could not bring down my mind tothink ofit otherwise than I had then spoken of it to Eugenius?
- And asfor the Bastile; the terror is in the word. - Make themost of ityou cansaid I to myselfthe Bastile is but anotherword for atower; - and a tower is but another word for a house youcan't getout of. - Mercy on the gouty! for they are in it twice ayear. -But with nine livres a dayand pen and inkand paperandpatiencealbeit a man can't get outhe may do very well within-at leastfor a mouth or six weeks; at the end of whichif he is aharmlessfellowhis innocence appearsand he comes out a betterand wiserman than he went in.
I had someoccasion (I forget what) to step into the court-yardasI settledthis account; and remember I walk'd down stairs in nosmalltriumph with the conceit of my reasoning. - Beshrew thesombrepencil! said Ivauntingly - for I envy not its powerswhichpaints the evils of life with so hard and deadly a colouring.The mindsits terrified at the objects she has magnified herselfandblackened: reduce them to their proper size and huesheoverlooksthem. - 'Tis truesaid Icorrecting the proposition-theBastile is not an evil to be despised; - but strip it of itstowers -fill up the fosse- unbarricade the doors - call itsimply aconfinementand suppose 'tis some tyrant of a distemper -and not ofa manwhich holds you in it- the evil vanishesandyou bearthe other half without complaint.
I wasinterrupted in the heyday of this soliloquywith a voicewhich Itook to be of a childwhich complained "it could not getout."- I look'd up and down the passageand seeing neither manwomannorchildI went out without farther attention.
In myreturn back through the passageI heard the same wordsrepeatedtwice over; andlooking upI saw it was a starling hungin alittle cage. - "I can't get out- I can't get out" saidthestarling.
I stoodlooking at the bird: and to every person who came throughthepassage it ran fluttering to the side towards which theyapproach'ditwith the same lamentation of its captivity. "Ican't getout" said the starling. - God help thee! said IbutI'll letthee outcost what it will; so I turned about the cage toget to thedoor: it was twisted and double twisted so fast withwirethere was no getting it open without pulling the cage topieces. -I took both hands to it.
The birdflew to the place where I was attempting his deliveranceandthrusting his head through the trellis pressed his breastagainst itas if impatient. - I fearpoor creature! said IIcannot setthee at liberty. - "No" said the starling- "Ican'tget out -I can't get out" said the starling.
I vow Inever had my affections more tenderly awakened; nor do Irememberan incident in my lifewhere the dissipated spiritstowhich myreason had been a bubblewere so suddenly call'd home.Mechanicalas the notes wereyet so true in tune to nature weretheychantedthat in one moment they overthrew all my systematicreasoningsupon the Bastile; and I heavily walked upstairsunsayingevery word I had said in going down them.
Disguisethyself as thou wiltstillSlavery! said I- still thouart abitter draught! and though thousands in all ages have beenmade todrink of theethou art no less bitter on that account. -'Tis thouthrice sweet and gracious goddessaddressing myself toLibertywhom all in public or in private worshipwhose taste isgratefuland ever will be sotill Nature herself shall change. -No TINT ofwords can spot thy snowy mantleor chymic power turnthysceptre into iron: - with thee to smile upon him as he eats hiscrusttheswain is happier than his monarchfrom whose court thouartexiled! - Gracious Heaven! cried Ikneeling down upon the laststep butone in my ascentgrant me but healththou great Bestowerof itandgive me but this fair goddess as my companion- andshowerdown thy mitresif it seems good unto thy divineprovidenceupon those heads which are aching for them!
THE birdin his cage pursued me into my room; I sat down close tomy tableand leaning my head upon my handI began to figure tomyself themiseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for itand so Igave full scope to my imagination.
I wasgoing to begin with the millions of my fellow-creatures bornto noinheritance but slavery: but findinghowever affecting thepicturewasthat I could not bring it near meand that themultitudeof sad groups in it did but distract me. -
- I took asingle captiveand having first shut him up in hisdungeonIthen look'd through the twilight of his grated door totake hispicture.
I beheldhis body half-wasted away with long expectation andconfinementand felt what kind of sickness of the heart it waswhicharises from hope deferr'd. Upon looking nearer I saw himpale andfeverish: in thirty years the western breeze had not oncefann'd hisblood; - he had seen no sunno moonin all that time -nor hadthe voice of friend or kinsman breathed through hislattice. -His children -
But heremy heart began to bleed - and I was forced to go on withanotherpart of the portrait.
He wassitting upon the ground upon a little strawin the furthestcorner ofhis dungeonwhich was alternately his chair and bed: alittlecalendar of small sticks were laid at the headnotch'd allover withthe dismal days and nights he had passed there; - he hadone ofthese little sticks in his handandwith a rusty nail hewasetching another day of misery to add to the heap. As Idarkenedthe little light he hadhe lifted up a hopeless eyetowardsthe doorthen cast it down- shook his headand went onwith hiswork of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legsashe turnedhis body to lay his little stick upon the bundle. - Hegave adeep sigh. - I saw the iron enter into his soul! - I burstintotears. - I could not sustain the picture of confinement whichmy fancyhad drawn. - I started up from my chairand calling LaFleur: Ibid him bespeak me a remiseand have it ready at the doorof thehotel by nine in the morning.
I'll godirectlysaid Imyself to Monsieur le Duc de Choiseul.
La Fleurwould have put me to bed; but - not willing he should seeanythingupon my cheek which would cost the honest fellow a heart-ache- Itold him I would go to bed by myself- and bid him go dothe same.
THESTARLING. ROAD TO VERSAILLES.
I GOT intomy remise the hour I proposed: La Fleur got up behindand I bidthe coachman make the best of his way to Versailles.
As therewas nothing in this roador rather nothing which I lookfor intravellingI cannot fill up the blank better than with ashorthistory of this self-same birdwhich became the subject ofthe lastchapter.
Whilst theHonourable Mr. - was waiting for a wind at Doverit hadbeencaught upon the cliffsbefore it could well flyby anEnglishlad who was his groom; whonot caring to destroy ithadtaken itin his breast into the packet; - andby course of feedingitandtaking it once under his protectionin a day or two grewfond ofitand got it safe along with him to Paris.
At Paristhe lad had laid out a livre in a little cage for thestarlingand as he had little to do better the five months hismasterstaid therehe taught itin his mother's tonguethe foursimplewords - (and no more) - to which I own'd myself so much itsdebtor.
Upon hismaster's going on for Italythe lad had given it to themaster ofthe hotel. But his little song for liberty being in anUNKNOWNlanguage at Paristhe bird had little or no store set byhim: so LaFleur bought both him and his cage for me for a bottleofBurgundy.
In myreturn from Italy I brought him with me to the country inwhoselanguage he had learned his notes; and telling the story ofhim toLord A-Lord A- begg'd the bird of me; - in a week Lord A-gave himto Lord B-; Lord B- made a present of him to Lord C-; andLord C-'sgentleman sold him to Lord D-'s for a shilling; Lord D-gave himto Lord E-; and so on - half round the alphabet. Fromthat rankhe pass'd into the lower houseand pass'd the hands ofas manycommoners. But as all these wanted to GET INand my birdwanted toGET OUThe had almost as little store set by him inLondon asin Paris.
It isimpossible but many of my readers must have heard of him; andif any bymere chance have ever seen himI beg leave to informthemthatthat bird was my birdor some vile copy set up torepresenthim.
I havenothing farther to add upon himbut that from that time tothis Ihave borne this poor starling as the crest to my arms. -Thus:
[Picturewhich cannot be reproduced]*
- And letthe herald's officers twist his neck about if they dare.
I SHOULDnot like to have my enemy take a view of my mind when I amgoing toask protection of any man; for which reason I generallyendeavourto protect myself; but this going to Monsieur le Duc deC- was anact of compulsion; had it been an act of choiceI shouldhave doneitI supposelike other people.
How manymean plans of dirty addressas I went alongdid myservileheart form! I deserved the Bastile for every one of them.
Thennothing would serve me when I got within sight of Versaillesbutputting words and sentences togetherand conceiving attitudesand tonesto wreath myself into Monsieur le Duc de C-'s goodgraces. -This will dosaid I. - Just as wellretorted I againas a coatcarried up to him by an adventurous tailorwithouttaking hismeasure. Fool! continued I- see Monsieur le Duc'sfacefirst; - observe what character is written in it; - takenotice inwhat posture he stands to hear you; - mark the turns andexpressionsof his body and limbs; - and for the tone- the firstsoundwhich comes from his lips will give it you; and from allthesetogether you'll compound an address at once upon the spotwhichcannot disgust the Duke; - the ingredients are his ownandmostlikely to go down.
Well! saidII wish it well over. - Coward again! as if man to manwas notequal throughout the whole surface of the globe; and if inthe field- why not face to face in the cabinet too? And trust meYorickwhenever it is not soman is false to himself and betrayshis ownsuccours ten times where nature does it once. Go to theDuc de C-with the Bastile in thy looks; - my life for itthouwilt besent back to Paris in half an hour with an escort.
I believesosaid I. - Then I'll go to the Dukeby heaven! withall thegaiety and debonairness in the world. -
- Andthere you are wrong againreplied I. - A heart at easeYorickflies into no extremes - 'tis ever on its centre. - Well!well!cried Ias the coachman turn'd in at the gatesI find Ishall dovery well: and by the time he had wheel'd round the courtandbrought me up to the doorI found myself so much the betterfor my ownlecturethat I neither ascended the steps like a victimtojusticewho was to part with life upon the top most- nor didI mountthem with a skip and a couple of stridesas I do when Ifly upEliza! to thee to meet it.
As Ientered the door of the saloon I was met by a personwhopossiblymight be the MAITRE D'HOTELbut had more the air of oneof theunder secretarieswho told me the Duc de C- was busy. - Iam utterlyignorantsaid Iof the forms of obtaining an audiencebeing anabsolute strangerand what is worse in the presentconjunctureof affairsbeing an Englishman too. - He repliedthatdid notincrease the difficulty. - I made him a slight bowandtold himI had something of importance to say to Monsieur le Duc.Thesecretary look'd towards the stairsas if he was about toleave meto carry up this account to some one. - But I must notmisleadyousaid I- for what I have to say is of no manner ofimportanceto Monsieur le Duc de C- - but of great importance tomyself. -C'EST UNE AUTRE AFFAIREreplied he. - Not at allsaidIto aman of gallantry. - But praygood sircontinued Iwhencan astranger hope to have access? - In not less than two hourssaid helooking at his watch. The number of equipages in thecourt-yardseemed to justify the calculationthat I could have nonearer aprospect; - and as walking backwards and forwards in thesaloonwithout a soul to commune withwas for the time as bad asbeing inthe Bastile itselfI instantly went back to my remiseand bidthe coachman drive me to the CORDON BLEUwhich was thenearesthotel.
I thinkthere is a fatality in it; - I seldom go to the place I setout for.
BEFORE Ihad got half way down the street I changed my mind: as Iam atVersaillesthought II might as well take a view of thetown; so Ipull'd the cordand ordered the coachman to drive roundsome ofthe principal streets. - I suppose the town is not verylargesaid I. - The coachman begg'd pardon for setting me rightand toldme it was very superband that numbers of the first dukesandmarquises and counts had hotels. - The Count de B-of whom thebooksellerat the Quai de Conti had spoke so handsomely the nightbeforecame instantly into my mind. - And why should I not gothought Ito the Count de B-who has so high an idea of Englishbooks andEnglish men - and tell him my story? so I changed my minda secondtime. - In truth it was the third; for I had intended thatday forMadame de R-in the Rue St. Pierreand had devoutly senther wordby her FILLE DE CHAMBRE that I would assuredly wait uponher; - butI am governed by circumstances; - I cannot govern them:so seeinga man standing with a basket on the other side of thestreetasif he had something to sellI bid La Fleur go up tohimandenquire for the Count's hotel.
La Fleurreturned a little pale; and told me it was a Chevalier deSt. Louisselling pates. - It is impossibleLa Fleursaid I. - LaFleurcould no more account for the phenomenon than myself; butpersistedin his story: he had seen the croix set in goldwith itsredribandhe saidtied to his buttonhole - and had looked intothe basketand seen the pates which the Chevalier was selling; socould notbe mistaken in that.
Such areverse in man's life awakens a better principle thancuriosity:I could not help looking for some time at him as I satin theremise: - the more I look'd at himhis croixand hisbasketthe stronger they wove themselves into my brain. - I gotout of theremiseand went towards him.
He wasbegirt with a clean linen apron which fell below his kneesand with asort of a bib that went half way up his breast; upon thetop ofthisbut a little below the hemhung his croix. Hisbasket oflittle pates was covered over with a white damask napkin;another ofthe same kind was spread at the bottom; and there was alook ofPROPRETE and neatness throughoutthat one might havebought hispates of himas much from appetite as sentiment.
He made anoffer of them to neither; but stood still with them atthe cornerof an hotelfor those to buy who chose it withoutsolicitation.
He wasabout forty-eight; - of a sedate looksomething approachingtogravity. I did not wonder. - I went up rather to the basketthan himand having lifted up the napkinand taking one of hispates intomy hand- I begg'd he would explain the appearancewhichaffected me.
He told mein a few wordsthat the best part of his life hadpassed inthe servicein whichafter spending a small patrimonyhe hadobtained a company and the croix with it; but thatat theconclusionof the last peacehis regiment being reformedand thewholecorpswith those of some other regimentsleft without anyprovisionhe found himself in a wide world without friendswithout alivre- and indeedsaid hewithout anything but this-(pointingas he said itto his croix). - The poor Chevalier wonmy pityand he finished the scene with winning my esteem too.
The kinghe saidwas the most generous of princesbut hisgenerositycould neither relieve nor reward everyoneand it wasonly hismisfortune to be amongst the number. He had a littlewifehesaidwhom he lovedwho did the PATISSERIE; and addedhefelt nodishonour in defending her and himself from want in thisway -unless Providence had offer'd him a better.
It wouldbe wicked to withhold a pleasure from the goodin passingover whathappen'd to this poor Chevalier of St. Louis about ninemonthsafter.
It seemshe usually took his stand near the iron gates which leadup to thepalaceand as his croix had caught the eyes of numbersnumbershad made the same enquiry which I had done. - He had toldthem thesame storyand always with so much modesty and goodsensethat it had reach'd at last the king's ears; - whohearingtheChevalier had been a gallant officerand respected by thewholeregiment as a man of honour and integrity- he broke up hislittletrade by a pension of fifteen hundred livres a year.
As I havetold this to please the readerI beg he will allow me torelateanotherout of its orderto please myself: - the twostoriesreflect light upon each other- and 'tis a pity theyshould beparted.
WHENstates and empires have their periods of declensionand feelin theirturns what distress and poverty is- I stop not to tellthe causeswhich gradually brought the house d'E-in Brittanyintodecay. The Marquis d'E- had fought up against his conditionwith greatfirmness; wishing to preserveand still show to theworldsome little fragments of what his ancestors had been; -theirindiscretions had put it out of his power. There was enoughleft forthe little exigencies of OBSCURITY. - But he had two boyswho lookedup to him for LIGHT; - he thought they deserved it. Hehad triedhis sword - it could not open the way- the MOUNTING wastooexpensive- and simple economy was not a match for it: - therewas noresource but commerce.
In anyother province in Francesave Brittanythis was smitingthe rootfor ever of the little tree his pride and affection wish'dto seere-blossom. - But in Brittanythere being a provision forthisheavail'd himself of it; andtaking an occasion when thestateswere assembled at Rennesthe Marquisattended with his twoboysentered the court; and having pleaded the right of an ancientlaw of theduchywhichthough seldom claim'dhe saidwas noless inforcehe took his sword from his side: - Heresaid hetake it;and be trusty guardians of ittill better times put me inconditionto reclaim it.
Thepresident accepted the Marquis's sword: he staid a few minutesto see itdeposited in the archives of his house - and departed.
TheMarquis and his whole family embarked the next clay forMartinicoand in about nineteen or twenty years of successfulapplicationto businesswith some unlook'd for bequests fromdistantbranches of his housereturn home to reclaim his nobilityand tosupport it.
It was anincident of good fortune which will never happen to anytravellerbut a Sentimental onethat I should be at Rennes at thevery timeof this solemn requisition: I call it solemn; - it was soto me.
TheMarquis entered the court with his whole family: he supportedhis lady- his eldest son supported his sisterand his youngestwas at theother extreme of the line next his mother; - he put hishandkerchiefto his face twice. -
- Therewas a dead silence. When the Marquis had approached withinsix pacesof the tribunalhe gave the Marchioness to his youngestsonandadvancing three steps before his family- he reclaim'dhissword. His sword was given himand the moment he got it intohis handhe drew it almost out of the scabbard: - 'twas the shiningface of afriend he had once given up - he look'd attentively alongitbeginning at the hiltas if to see whether it was the same-whenobserving a little rust which it had contracted near thepointhebrought it near his eyeand bending his head down overit- Ithink - I saw a tear fall upon the place. I could not bedeceivedby what followed.
"Ishall find" said he"some OTHER WAY to get it off."
When theMarquis had said thishe returned his sword into itsscabbardmade a bow to the guardians of it- andwith his wifeanddaughterand his two sons following himwalk'd out.
Ohow Ienvied him his feelings!
I FOUND nodifficulty in getting admittance to Monsieur le Count deB-. The set of Shakespeares was laid upon the tableand he wastumblingthem over. I walk'd up close to the tableand givingfirst sucha look at the books as to make him conceive I knew whatthey were- I told him I had come without any one to present meknowing Ishould meet with a friend in his apartmentwhoItrustedwould do it for me: - it is my countrymanthe greatShakespearesaid Ipointing to his works - ET AYEZ LA BOUTEMONCHER AMIapostrophizing his spiritadded IDE ME FAIRE CETHONNEUR-LE.-
The Countsmiled at the singularity of the introduction; and seeingI look'd alittle pale and sicklyinsisted upon my taking an arm-chair; soI sat down; and to save him conjectures upon a visit soout of allruleI told him simply of the incident in thebookseller'sshopand how that had impelled me rather to go to himwith thestory of a little embarrassment I was underthan to anyother manin France. - And what is your embarrassment? let me hearitsaidthe Count. So I told him the story just as I have told itthereader.
- And themaster of my hotelsaid Ias I concluded itwill needshave itMonsieur le Countthat I shall be sent to the Bastile; -but I haveno apprehensionscontinued I; - forin falling intothe handsof the most polish'd people in the worldand beingconsciousI was a true manand not come to spy the nakedness ofthe landI scarce thought I lay at their mercy. - It does not suitthegallantry of the FrenchMonsieur le Countsaid Ito show itagainstinvalids.
Ananimated blush came into the Count de B-'s cheeks as I spokethis. - NECRAIGNEZ RIEN - Don't fearsaid he. - IndeedI don'treplied Iagain. - Besidescontinued Ia little sportinglyIhave comelaughing all the way from London to Parisand I do notthinkMonsieur le Duc de Choiseul is such an enemy to mirth as tosend meback crying for my pains.
- Myapplication to youMonsieur le Count de B- (making him a lowbow)isto desire he will not.
The Countheard me with great good natureor I had not said halfas much-and once or twice said- C'EST BIEN DIT. So I restedmy causethere - and determined to say no more about it.
The Countled the discourse: we talk'd of indifferent things- ofbooksandpoliticsand men; - and then of women. - God bless themall! saidIafter much discourse about them - there is not a manupon earthwho loves them so much as I do: after all the foibles Ihave seenand all the satires I have read against themstill Ilove them;being firmly persuaded that a manwho has not a sort ofaffectionfor the whole sexis incapable of ever loving a singleone as heought.
EH BIEN! MONSIEUR L'ANGLOISsaid the Countgaily; - you are notcome tospy the nakedness of the land; - I believe you; - NIENCOREIdare sayTHAT of our women! - But permit me toconjecture- ifPAR HAZARDthey fell into your waythat theprospectwould not affect you.
I havesomething within me which cannot bear the shock of the leastindecentinsinuation: in the sportability of chit-chat I have oftenendeavouredto conquer itand with infinite pain have hazarded athousandthings to a dozen of the sex together- the least ofwhich Icould not venture to a single one to gain heaven.
Excuse meMonsieur le Countsaid I; - as for the nakedness ofyour landif I saw itI should cast my eyes over it with tears inthem; -and for that of your women (blushing at the idea he hadexcited inme) I am so evangelical in thisand have such a fellow-feelingfor whatever is weak about themthat I would cover it witha garmentif I knew how to throw it on: - But I could wishcontinuedIto spy the nakedness of their heartsand through thedifferentdisguises of customsclimatesand religionfind outwhat isgood in them to fashion my own by: - and therefore am Icome.
It is forthis reasonMonsieur le Countcontinued Ithat I havenot seenthe Palais Royal- nor the Luxembourg- nor the Facadeof theLouvre- nor have attempted to swell the catalogues we haveofpicturesstatuesand churches. - I conceive every fair beingas atempleand would rather enter inand see the originaldrawingsand loose sketches hung up in itthan the Transfigurationof Raphaelitself.
The thirstof thiscontinued Ias impatient as that whichinflamesthe breast of the connoisseurhas led me from my own homeintoFrance- and from France will lead me through Italy; - 'tis aquietjourney of the heart in pursuit of Natureand thoseaffectionswhich arise out of herwhich make us love each other-and theworldbetter than we do.
The Countsaid a great many civil things to me upon the occasion;and addedvery politelyhow much he stood obliged to Shakespearefor makingme known to him. - But A PROPOSsaid he; - Shakespeareis full ofgreat things; - he forgot a small punctilio ofannouncingyour name: - it puts you under a necessity of doing ityourself.
THERE isnot a more perplexing affair in life to methan to setabouttelling any one who I am- for there is scarce any body Icannotgive a better account of than myself; and I have oftenwished Icould do it in a single word- and have an end of it. Itwas theonly time and occasion in my life I could accomplish thisto anypurpose; - for Shakespeare lying upon the tableandrecollectingI was in his booksI took up Hamletand turningimmediatelyto the grave-diggers' scene in the fifth actI laid myfingerupon Yorickand advancing the book to the Countwith myfinger allthe way over the name- ME VOICI! said I.
Nowwhether the idea of poor Yorick's skull was put out of theCount'smind by the reality of my ownor by what magic he coulddrop aperiod of seven or eight hundred yearsmakes nothing inthisaccount; - 'tis certain the French conceive better than theycombine; -I wonder at nothing in this worldand the less at this;inasmuchas one of the first of our own Churchfor whose candourandpaternal sentiments I have the highest venerationfell intothe samemistake in the very same case: - "He could not bear" hesaid"tolook into the sermons wrote by the King of Denmark'sjester." Goodmy Lord said I; but there are two Yoricks. TheYorickyour Lordship thinks ofhas been dead and buried eighthundredyears ago; he flourished in Horwendillus's court; - theotherYorick is myselfwho have flourishedmy Lordin no court.- He shookhis head. Good God! said Iyou might as well confoundAlexanderthe Great with Alexander the Coppersmithmy lord! -"'Twasall one" he replied. -
- IfAlexanderKing of Macedoncould have translated yourLordshipsaid II'm sure your Lordship would not have said so.
The poorCount de B- fell but into the same ERROR.
- ETMONSIEUREST-IL YORICK? cried the Count. - JE LE SUISsaidI. - VOUS?- MOI- MOI QUI AI L'HONNEUR DE VOUS PARLERMONSIEURLE COMTE.- MON DIEU! said heembracing me- VOUS ETES YORICK!
The Countinstantly put the Shakespeare into his pocketand leftme alonein his room.
I COULDnot conceive why the Count de B- had gone so abruptly outof theroomany more than I could conceive why he had put theShakespeareinto his pocket. -
MYSTERIESWHICH MUST EXPLAIN THEMSELVES ARE NOT WORTH THE LOSS OFTIME WHICHA CONJECTURE ABOUT THEM TAKES UP: 'twas better to readShakespeare;so taking up "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" I transportedmyselfinstantly from the chair I sat in to Messina in Sicilyandgot sobusy with Don Pedroand Benedictand Beatricethat Ithoughtnot of Versaillesthe Countor the passport.
Sweetpliability of man's spiritthat can at once surrender itselftoillusionswhich cheat expectation and sorrow of their wearymoments! -Long- long since had ye number'd out my dayshad Inot trodso great a part of them upon this enchanted ground. Whenmy way istoo rough for my feetor too steep for my strengthIget offitto some smooth velvet pathwhich Fancy has scatteredover withrosebuds of delights; and having taken a few turns in itcome backstrengthened and refresh'd. - When evils press sore uponmeandthere is no retreat from them in this worldthen I take anewcourse; - I leave it- and as I have a clearer idea of theElysianfields than I have of heavenI force myselflike AEneasinto them.- I see him meet the pensive shade of his forsaken Didoand wishto recognise it; - I see the injured spirit wave her headand turnoff silent from the author of her miseries and dishonours;- I losethe feelings for myself in hersand in those affectionswhich werewont to make me mourn for her when I was at school.
SURELYTHIS IS NOT WALKING IN A VAIN SHADOW - NOR DOES MAN DISQUIETHIMSELF invain BY IT: -he oftener does so in trusting the issue ofhiscommotions to reason only. - I can safely say for myselfI wasnever ableto conquer any one single bad sensation in my heart sodecisivelyas beating up as fast as I could for some kindly andgentlesensation to fight it upon its own ground
When I hadgot to the end of the third act the Count de B- enteredwith mypassport in his hand. Monsieur le Duc de C-said theCountisas good a prophetI dare sayas he is a statesman. UNHOMME QUIRITsaid the DukeNE SERA JAMAIS DANGEREUX. - Had itbeen forany one but the king's jesteradded the CountI couldnot havegot it these two hours. - PARDONNEZ MOIMonsieur leCountsaid I - I am not the king's jester. - But you are Yorick? -Yes. - ETVOUS PLAISANTEZ? - I answeredIndeed I did jest- butwas notpaid for it; - 'twas entirely at my own expense.
We have nojester at courtMonsieur le Countsaid I; the last wehad was inthe licentious reign of Charles II.; - since which timeourmanners have been so gradually refiningthat our court atpresent isso full of patriotswho wish for NOTHING but thehonoursand wealth of their country; - and our ladies are all sochastesospotlessso goodso devout- there is nothing for ajester tomake a jest of. -
VOILA UNPERSIFLAGE! cried the Count.
AS thepassport was directed to all lieutenant-governorsgovernorsand commandants of citiesgenerals of armiesjusticiariesand all officers of justiceto let Mr. Yorick theking'sjesterand his baggagetravel quietly alongI own thetriumph ofobtaining the passport was not a little tarnish'd by thefigure Icut in it. - But there is nothing unmix'd in this world;and someof the gravest of our divines have carried it so far as toaffirmthat enjoyment itself was attended even with a sigh- andthat thegreatest THEY KNEW OF terminatedIN A GENERAL WAYinlittlebetter than a convulsion.
I rememberthe grave and learned Bevoriskiusin his Commentaryupon theGenerations from Adamvery naturally breaks off in themiddle ofa note to give an account to the world of a couple ofsparrowsupon the out-edge of his windowwhich had incommoded himall thetime he wroteand at last had entirely taken him off fromhisgenealogy.
- 'Tisstrange! writes Bevoriskius; but the facts are certainforI have hadthe curiosity to mark them down one by one with my pen;- but thecock sparrowduring the little time that I could havefinishedthe other half of this notehas actually interrupted mewith thereiteration of his caresses three-and-twenty times and ahalf.
Howmercifuladds Bevoriskiusis heaven to his creatures!
Ill fatedYorick! that the gravest of thy brethren should be ableto writethat to the worldwhich stains thy face with crimson tocopyevenin thy study.
But thisis nothing to my travels. - So I twice- twice beg pardonfor it.
AND how doyou find the French? said the Count de B-after he hadgiven methe passport.
The readermay supposethat after so obliging a proof of courtesyI couldnot be at a loss to say something handsome to the enquiry.
- MAISPASSEPOUR CELA. - Speak franklysaid he: do you find alltheurbanity in the French which the world give us the honour of? -I hadfound every thingI saidwhich confirmed it. - VRAIMENTsaid theCountLES FRANCOIS SONT POLIS. - To an excessreplied I.
The Counttook notice of the word EXCES; and would have it I meantmore thanI said. I defended myself a long time as well as I couldagainstit. - He insisted I had a reserveand that I would speakmy opinionfrankly.
I believeMonsieur le Countsaid Ithat man has a certaincompassas well as an instrument; and that the social and othercalls haveoccasion by turns for every key in him; so that if youbegin anote too high or too lowthere must be a want either inthe upperor under partto fill up the system of harmony. - TheCount deB- did not understand musicso desired me to explain itsome otherway. A polish'd nationmy dear Countsaid Imakesevery oneits debtor: and besidesUrbanity itselflike the fairsexhasso many charmsit goes against the heart to say it can doill; andyetI believethere is but a certain line of perfectionthat mantake him altogetheris empower'd to arrive at: - if hegetsbeyondhe rather exchanges qualities than gets them. I mustnotpresume to say how far this has affected the French in thesubject weare speaking of; - butshould it ever be the case oftheEnglishin the progress of their refinementsto arrive at thesamepolish which distinguishes the Frenchif we did not lose thePOLITESSEDU COEURwhich inclines men more to humane actions thancourteousones- we should at least lose that distinct variety andoriginalityof characterwhich distinguishes themnot only fromeachotherbut from all the world besides.
I had afew of King William's shillingsas smooth as glassin mypocket;and foreseeing they would be of use in the illustration ofmyhypothesisI had got them into my hand when I had proceeded sofar: -
SeeMonsieur le Countsaid Irising upand laying them beforehim uponthe table- by jingling and rubbing one against anotherforseventy years together in one body's pocket or another'stheyare becomeso much alikeyou can scarce distinguish one shillingfromanother.
TheEnglishlike ancient medalskept more apartand passing butfewpeople's handspreserve the first sharpnesses which the finehand ofNature has given them; - they are not so pleasant to feel- but inreturn the legend is so visiblethat at the first lookyou seewhose image and superscription they bear. - But the FrenchMonsieurle Countadded I (wishing to soften what I had said)have somany excellencesthey can the better spare this; - theyare aloyala gallanta generousan ingeniousand good temper'dpeople asis under heaven; - if they have a fault - they are tooSERIOUS.
MON DIEU!cried the Countrising out of his chair.
MAIS VOUSPLAISANTEZsaid hecorrecting his exclamation. - I laidmy handupon my breastand with earnest gravity assured him it wasmy mostsettled opinion.
The Countsaid he was mortified he could not stay to hear myreasonsbeing engaged to go that moment to dine with the Duc de C-.
But if itis not too far to come to Versailles to eat your soupwith meIbegbefore you leave FranceI may have the pleasure ofknowingyou retract your opinion- orin what manner you supportit. - Butif you do support itMonsieur Angloissaid heyoumust do itwith all your powersbecause you have the whole worldagainstyou. - I promised the Count I would do myself the honour ofdiningwith him before I set out for Italy; - so took my leave.
WHEN Ialighted at the hotelthe porter told me a young woman witha bandboxhad been that moment enquiring for me. - I do not knowsaid theporterwhether she is gone away or not. I took the keyof mychamber of himand went upstairs; and when I had got withinten stepsof the top of the landing before my doorI met hercomingeasily down.
It was thefair FILLE DE CHAMBRE I had walked along the Quai deContiwith; Madame de R- had sent her upon some commission to aMARCHANDEDES MODES within a step or two of the Hotel de Modene;and as Ihad fail'd in waiting upon herhad bid her enquire if Ihad leftParis; and if sowhether I had not left a letteraddressedto her.
As thefair FILLE DE CHAMBRE was so near my doorshe returnedbackandwent into the room with me for a moment or two whilst Iwrote acard.
It was afine still evening in the latter end of the month of May- thecrimson window curtains (which were of the same colour asthose ofthe bed) were drawn close: - the sun was settingandreflectedthrough them so warm a tint into the fair FILLE DECHAMBRE'Sface- I thought she blush'd; - the idea of it made meblushmyself: - we were quite alone; and that superinduced a secondblushbefore the first could get off.
There is asort of a pleasing half guilty blushwhere the blood ismore infault than the man: - 'tis sent impetuous from the heartand virtueflies after it- not to call it backbut to make thesensationof it more delicious to the nerves: -'tis associated. -
But I'llnot describe it; - I felt something at first within mewhich wasnot in strict unison with the lesson of virtue I hadgiven herthe night before. - I sought five minutes for a card; - Iknew I hadnot one. - I took up a pen. - I laid it down again; - myhandtrembled: - the devil was in me.
I know aswell as any one he is an adversarywhomif we resisthe willfly from us; - but I seldom resist him at all; from aterrorthough I may conquerI may still get a hurt in the combat;- so Igive up the triumph for security; andinstead of thinkingto makehim flyI generally fly myself.
The fairFILLE DE CHAMBRE came close up to the bureau where I waslookingfor a card - took up first the pen I cast downthenoffer'd tohold me the ink; she offer'd it so sweetlyI was goingto acceptit; - but I durst not; - I have nothingmy dearsaid Ito writeupon. - Write itsaid shesimplyupon anything. -
I was justgoing to cry outThen I will write itfair girl! uponthy lips.-
If I dosaid II shall perish; - so I took her by the handandled her tothe doorand begg'd she would not forget the lesson Ihad givenher. - She saidindeed she would not; - andas sheuttered itwith some earnestnessshe turn'd aboutand gave meboth herhandsclosed togetherinto mine; - it was impossible nottocompress them in that situation; - I wish'd to let them go; andall thetime I held themI kept arguing within myself against it- andstill I held them on. - In two minutes I found I had all thebattle tofight over again; - and I felt my legs and every limbabout metremble at the idea.
The footof the bed was within a yard and a half of the place wherewe werestanding. - I had still hold of her hands - and how ithappened Ican give no account; but I neither ask'd her - nor drewher - nordid I think of the bed; - but so it did happenwe bothsat down.
I'll justshow yousaid the fair FILLE DE CHAMBREthe littlepurse Ihave been making to-day to hold your crown. So she put herhand intoher right pocketwhich was next meand felt for it sometime -then into the left. - "She had lost it." - I never boreexpectationmore quietly; - it was in her right pocket at last; -she pull'dit out; it was of green taffetalined with a little bitof whitequilted satinand just big enough to hold the crown: sheput itinto my hand; - it was pretty; and I held it ten minuteswith theback of my hand resting upon her lap - looking sometimesat thepursesometimes on one side of it.
A stitchor two had broke out in the gathers of my stock; the fairFILLE DECHAMBREwithout saying a wordtook out her littlehousewifethreaded a small needleand sew'd it up. - I foresaw itwouldhazard the glory of the day; andas she pass'd her hand insilenceacross and across my neck in the manoeuvreI felt thelaurelsshake which fancy had wreath'd about my head.
A straphad given way in her walkand the buckle of her shoe wasjustfalling off. - Seesaid the FILLE DE CHAMBREholding up herfoot. - Icould notfor my soul but fasten the buckle in returnandputting in the strap- and lifting up the other foot with itwhen I haddoneto see both were right- in doing it toosuddenlyit unavoidably threw the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE off hercentre-and then -
YES- andthen -. Ye whose clay-cold heads and luke-warm heartscan arguedown or mask your passionstell mewhat trespass is itthat manshould have them? or how his spirit stands answerable tothe Fatherof spirits but for his conduct under them?
If Naturehas so wove her web of kindnessthat some threads oflove anddesire are entangled with the piece- must the whole webbe rent indrawing them out? - Whip me such stoicsgreat Governorof Nature!said I to myself: - wherever thy providence shall placeme for thetrials of my virtue; - whatever is my danger- whateveris mysituation- let me feel the movements which rise out of itand whichbelong to me as a man- andif I govern them as a goodoneIwill trust the issues to thy justice; for thou hast made usand not weourselves.
As Ifinished my addressI raised the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE up bythe handand led her out of the room: - she stood by me till Ilocked thedoor and put the key in my pocket- and then- thevictorybeing quite decisive - and not till thenI press'd my lipsto hercheekand taking her by the hand againled her safe to thegate ofthe hotel.
IF a manknows the hearthe will know it was impossible to go backinstantlyto my chamber; - it was touching a cold key with a flatthird toit upon the close of a piece of musicwhich had call'dforth myaffections: - thereforewhen I let go the hand of theFILLE DECHAMBREI remained at the gate of the hotel for sometimelooking at every one who pass'd by- and forming conjecturesupon themtill my attention got fix'd upon a single object whichconfoundedall kind of reasoning upon him.
It was atall figure of a philosophicseriousadust lookwhichpassed andrepass'd sedately along the streetmaking a turn ofaboutsixty paces on each side of the gate of the hotel; - the manwas aboutfifty-two - had a small cane under his arm - was dress'din a darkdrab-colour'd coatwaistcoatand breecheswhich seem'dto haveseen some years service: - they were still cleanand therewas alittle air of frugal PROPRETE throughout him. By his pullingoff hishatand his attitude of accosting a good many in his wayI saw hewas asking charity: so I got a sous or two out of mypocketready to give himas he took me in his turn. - He pass'd byme withoutasking anything - and yet did not go five steps furtherbefore heask'd charity of a little woman. - I was much more likelyto havegiven of the two. - He had scarce done with the womanwhenhe pull'doff his hat to another who was coming the same way. - Anancientgentleman came slowly - andafter hima young smart one.- He letthem both passand ask'd nothing. I stood observing himhalf anhourin which time he had made a dozen turns backwards andforwardsand found that he invariably pursued the same plan.
There weretwo things very singular in thiswhich set my brain toworkandto no purpose: - the first waswhy the man should ONLYtell hisstory to the sex; - andsecondly- what kind of story itwasandwhat species of eloquence it could bewhich soften'd thehearts ofthe womenwhich he knew 'twas to no purpose to practiseupon themen.
There weretwo other circumstanceswhich entangled this mystery; -the onewashe told every woman what he had to say in her earandin a waywhich had much more the air of a secret than a petition; -the otherwasit was always successful. - He never stopp'd awomanbutshe pull'd out her purseand immediately gave himsomething.
I couldform no system to explain the phenomenon.
I had gota riddle to amuse me for the rest of the evening; so Iwalk'dupstairs to my chamber.
THE CASEOF CONSCIENCE. PARIS.
I WASimmediately followed up by the master of the hotelwho cameinto myroom to tell me I must provide lodgings elsewhere. - Howsofriend? said I. - He answeredI had had a young woman lock'dup with metwo hours that evening in my bedchamberand 'twasagainstthe rules of his house. - Very wellsaid Iwe'll all partfriendsthen- for the girl is no worse- and I am no worse-and youwill be just as I found you. - It was enoughhe saidtooverthrowthe credit of his hotel. - VOYEZ VOUSMonsieursaid hepointingto the foot of the bed we had been sitting upon. - I ownit hadsomething of the appearance of an evidence; but my pride notsufferingme to enter into any detail of the caseI exhorted himto let hissoul sleep in peaceas I resolved to let mine do thatnightandthat I would discharge what I owed him at breakfast.
I shouldnot have mindedMonsieursaid heif you had had twentygirls -'Tis a score morereplied Iinterrupting himthan I everreckon'dupon - Providedadded heit had been but in a morning. -And doesthe difference of the time of the day at Paris make adifferencein the sin? - It made a differencehe saidin thescandal. -I like a good distinction in my heart; and cannot say Iwasintolerably out of temper with the man. - I own it isnecessaryresumed the master of the hotelthat a stranger atParisshould have the opportunities presented to him of buying laceand silkstockings and rufflesET TOUT CELA; - and 'tis nothing ifa womancomes with a band-box. - Omy conscience! said Ishe hadone but Inever look'd into it. - Then Monsieursaid hehasboughtnothing? - Not one earthly thingreplied I. - BecausesaidheIcould recommend one to you who would use you EN CONSCIENCE. -But I mustsee her this nightsaid I. - He made me a low bowandwalk'ddown.
Now shallI triumph over this MAITRE D'HOTELcried I- and whatthen? Then I shall let him see I know he is a dirty fellow. - Andwhatthen? What then? - I was too near myself to say it was forthe sakeof others. - I had no good answer left; - there was moreof spleenthan principle in my projectand I was sick of it beforetheexecution.
In a fewminutes the grisette came in with her box of lace. - I'llbuynothinghoweversaid Iwithin myself.
Thegrisette would show me everything. - I was hard to please: shewould notseem to see it; she opened her little magazineand laidall herlaces one after another before me; - unfolded and foldedthem upagain one by one with the most patient sweetness. - I mightbuy- ornot; - she would let me have everything at my own price:- the poorcreature seem'd anxious to get a penny; and laid herselfout to winmeand not so much in a manner which seem'd artfulasin one Ifelt simple and caressing.
If thereis not a fund of honest gullibility in manso much theworse; -my heart relentedand I gave up my second resolution asquietly asthe first. - Why should I chastise one for the trespassofanother? If thou art tributary to this tyrant of an hostthought Ilooking up in her faceso much harder is thy bread.
If I hadnot had more than four louis d'ors in my pursethere wasno suchthing as rising up and showing her the doortill I hadfirst laidthree of them out in a pair of ruffles.
- Themaster of the hotel will share the profit with her; - nomatter-then I have only paid as many a poor soul has PAID beforemefor anact he COULD not door think of.
WHEN LaFleur came up to wait upon me at supperhe told me howsorry themaster of the hotel was for his affront to me in biddingme changemy lodgings.
A man whovalues a good night's rest will not lie down with enmityin hisheartif he can help it. - So I bid La Fleur tell themaster ofthe hotelthat I was sorry on my side for the occasion Ihad givenhim; - and you may tell himif you willLa FleuraddedIthat ifthe young woman should call againI shall not see her.
This was asacrifice not to himbut myselfhaving resolvedafterso narrowan escapeto run no more risksbut to leave Parisifit waspossiblewith all the virtue I enter'd it.
C'ESTDEROGER E NOBLESSEMONSIEURsaid La Fleurmaking me a bowdown tothe ground as he said it. - ET ENCOREMONSIEURsaid hemay changehis sentiments; - and if (PAR HAZARD) he should like toamusehimself- I find no amusement in itsaid Iinterruptinghim. -
MON DIEU!said La Fleur- and took away.
In anhour's time he came to put me to bedand was more thancommonlyofficious: - something hung upon his lips to say to meorask mewhich he could not get off: I could not conceive what itwasandindeed gave myself little trouble to find it outas I hadanotherriddle so much more interesting upon my mindwhich wasthat ofthe man's asking charity before the door of the hotel. - Iwould havegiven anything to have got to the bottom of it; andthatnotout of curiosity- 'tis so low a principle of enquiryingeneralI would not purchase the gratification of it with atwo-souspiece; - but a secretI thoughtwhich so soon and socertainlysoften'd the heart of every woman you came nearwas asecret atleast equal to the philosopher's stone; had I both theIndiesIwould have given up one to have been master of it.
I toss'dand turn'd it almost all night long in my brains to nomanner ofpurpose; and when I awoke in the morningI found myspirits asmuch troubled with my dreamsas ever the King ofBabylonhad been with his; and I will not hesitate to affirmitwould havepuzzled all the wise men of Paris as much as those ofChaldea tohave given its interpretation.
IT wasSunday; and when La Fleur came inin the morningwith mycoffee androll and butterhe had got himself so gallantlyarray'dIscarce knew him.
I hadcovenanted at Montreuil to give him a new hat with a silverbutton andloopand four louis d'orsPOUR S'ADONISERwhen we gotto Paris;and the poor fellowto do him justicehad done wonderswith it.
He hadbought a brightcleangood scarlet coatand a pair ofbreechesof the same. - They were not a crown worsehe saidforthewearing. - I wish'd him hang'd for telling me. - They look'd sofreshthat though I knew the thing could not be doneyet I wouldratherhave imposed upon my fancy with thinking I had bought themnew forthe fellowthan that they had come out of the Rue deFriperie.
This is anicety which makes not the heart sore at Paris.
He hadpurchasedmoreovera handsome blue satin waistcoatfancifullyenough embroidered: - this was indeed something theworse forthe service it had donebut 'twas clean scour'd; - thegold hadbeen touch'd upand upon the whole was rather showy thanotherwise;- and as the blue was not violentit suited with thecoat andbreeches very well: he had squeez'd out of the moneymoreovera new bag and a solitaire; and had insisted with theFRIPIERupon a gold pair of garters to his breeches knees. - He hadpurchasedmuslin rufflesBIEN BRODEESwith four livres of his ownmoney; -and a pair of white silk stockings for five more; - and totop allnature had given him a handsome figurewithout costinghim asous.
He enteredthe room thus set offwith his hair dressed in thefirststyleand with a handsome bouquet in his breast. - In awordthere was that look of festivity in everything about himwhich atonce put me in mind it was Sunday; - andby combiningbothtogetherit instantly struck methat the favour he wish'd toask of methe night beforewas to spend the day as every body inParisspent it besides. I had scarce made the conjecturewhen LaFleurwith infinite humilitybut with a look of trustas if Ishould notrefuse himbegg'd I would grant him the dayPOUR FAIRELE GALANTVIS-E-VIS DE SA MAITRESSE.
Now it wasthe very thing I intended to do myself vis-e-vis Madamede R-. - Ihad retained the remise on purpose for itand it wouldnot havemortified my vanity to have had a servant so well dress'das LaFleur wasto have got up behind it: I never could have worsesparedhim.
But wemust FEELnot argue in these embarrassments. - The sons anddaughtersof Service part with libertybut not with natureintheircontracts; they are flesh and bloodand have their littlevanitiesand wishes in the midst of the house of bondageas wellas theirtask-masters; - no doubtthey have set their self-denialsat aprice- and their expectations are so unreasonablethat Iwouldoften disappoint thembut that their condition puts it somuch in mypower to do it.
BEHOLD-BEHOLDI AM THY SERVANT - disarms me at once of thepowers ofa master. -
Thou shaltgoLa Fleur! said I.
- And whatmistressLa Fleursaid Icanst thou have picked up inso littlea time at Paris? La Fleur laid his hand upon his breastand said'twas a PETITE DEMOISELLEat Monsieur le Count de B-'s. -La Fleurhad a heart made for society; andto speak the truth ofhimletas few occasions slip him as his master; - so that somehowor other- but how- heaven knows- he had connected himselfwith thedemoiselle upon the landing of the staircaseduring thetime I wastaken up with my passport; and as there was time enoughfor me towin the Count to my interestLa Fleur had contrived tomake it doto win the maid to his. The familyit seemswas to beat Paristhat dayand he had made a party with herand two orthree moreof the Count's householdupon the boulevards.
Happypeople! that once a week at least are sure to lay down allyour carestogetherand dance and sing and sport away the weightsofgrievancewhich bow down the spirit of other nations to theearth.
LA FLEURhad left me something to amuse myself with for the daymore thanI had bargain'd foror could have enter'd either intohis heador mine.
He hadbrought the little print of butter upon a currant leaf: andas themorning was warmand he had a good step to bring ithe hadbegg'd asheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant leaf andhis hand.- As that was plate sufficientI bade him lay it uponthe tableas it was; and as I resolved to stay within all dayIorderedhim to call upon the TRAITEURto bespeak my dinnerandleave meto breakfast by myself.
When I hadfinished the butterI threw the currant-leaf out of thewindowand was going to do the same by the waste paper; - butstoppingto read a line firstand that drawing me on to a secondand third- I thought it better worth; so I shut the windowanddrawing achair up to itI sat down to read it.
It was inthe old French of Rabelais's timeand for aught I knowmight havebeen wrote by him: - it was moreover in a Gothic letterand thatso faded and gone off by damps and length of timeit costmeinfinite trouble to make anything of it. - I threw it down; andthen wrotea letter to Eugenius; - then I took it up againandembroiledmy patience with it afresh; - and then to cure thatIwrote aletter to Eliza. - Still it kept hold of me; and thedifficultyof understanding it increased but the desire.
I got mydinner; and after I had enlightened my mind with a bottleofBurgundy; I at it again- andafter two or three hours poringupon itwith almost as deep attention as ever Gruter or Jacob Spondid upon anonsensical inscriptionI thought I made sense of it;but tomake sure of itthe best wayI imaginedwas to turn itintoEnglishand see how it would look then; - so I went onleisurelyas a trifling man doessometimes writing a sentence-thentaking a turn or two- and then looking how the world wentout of thewindow; so that it was nine o'clock at night before Ihad doneit. - I then began and read it as follows.
- NOWasthe notary's wife disputed the point with the notary withtoo muchheat- I wishsaid the notary(throwing down theparchment)that there was another notary here only to set down andattest allthis. -
- And whatwould you do thenMonsieur? said sherising hastilyup. - Thenotary's wife was a little fume of a womanand thenotarythought it well to avoid a hurricane by a mild reply. - Iwould goanswered heto bed. - You may go to the devilanswer'dthenotary's wife.
Now therehappening to be but one bed in the housethe other tworoomsbeing unfurnishedas is the custom at Parisand the notarynot caringto lie in the same bed with a woman who had but thatmomentsent him pell mell to the devilwent forth with his hat andcane andshort cloakthe night being very windyand walk'd outill ateasetowards the Pont Neuf.
Of all thebridges which ever were builtthe whole world who havepass'dover the Pont Neuf must ownthat it is the noblest- thefinest-the grandest- the lightest- the longest- thebroadestthat ever conjoin'd land and land together upon the faceof theterraqueous globe.
[BY THISIT SEEMS AS IF THE AUTHOR OF THE FRAGMENT HAD NOT BEEN AFRENCHMAN.]
The worstfault which divines and the doctors of the Sorbonne canallegeagainst it isthat if there is but a capfull of wind in oraboutParis'tis more blasphemously SACRE DIEU'D there than in anyotheraperture of the whole city- and with reason good andcogentMessieurs; for it comes against you without crying GARDED'EAUandwith such unpremeditable puffsthat of the few whocross itwith their hats onnot one in fifty but hazards twolivres anda halfwhich is its full worth.
The poornotaryjust as he was passing by the sentryinstinctivelyclapp'd his cane to the side of itbut in raising itupthepoint of his cane catching hold of the loop of thesentinel'shathoisted it over the spikes of the ballustrade clearinto theSeine. -
- 'TIS ANILL WINDsaid a boatmanwho catched itWHICH BLOWSNOBODY ANYGOOD.
Thesentrybeing a Gasconincontinently twirled up his whiskersandlevell'd his arquebuss.
Arquebussesin those days went off with matches; and an old woman'spaperlantern at the end of the bridge happening to be blown outshe hadborrow'd the sentry's match to light it: - it gave amoment'stime for the Gascon's blood to run cooland turn theaccidentbetter to his advantage. - 'TIS AN ILL WINDsaid hecatchingoff the notary's castorand legitimating the capture withtheboatman's adage.
The poornotary crossed the bridgeand passing along the Rue deDauphineinto the fauxbourgs of St. Germainlamented himself as hewalkedalong in this manner: -
Lucklessman that I am! said the notaryto be the sport ofhurricanesall my days: - to be born to have the storm of illlanguagelevell'd against me and my profession wherever I go; to beforcedinto marriage by the thunder of the church to a tempest of awoman; -to be driven forth out of my house by domestic windsanddespoil'dof my castor by pontific ones! - to be herebareheadedin a windynightat the mercy of the ebbs and flows of accidents!- Where amI to lay my head? - Miserable man! what wind in the two-and-thirtypoints of the whole compass can blow unto theeas itdoes tothe rest of thy fellow-creaturesgood?
As thenotary was passing on by a dark passagecomplaining in thissortavoice call'd out to a girlto bid her run for the nextnotary. -Now the notary being the nextand availing himself ofhissituationwalk'd up the passage to the doorand passingthrough anold sort of a saloonwas usher'd into a large chamberdismantledof everything but a long military pike- a breastplate- a rustyold swordand bandoleerhung upequidistantin fourdifferentplaces against the wall.
An oldpersonage who had heretofore been a gentlemanand unlessdecay offortune taints the blood along with itwas a gentleman atthat timelay supporting his head upon his hand in his bed; alittletable with a taper burning was set close beside itandclose bythe table was placed a chair: - the notary sat him down init; andpulling out his inkhorn and a sheet or two of paper whichhe had inhis pockethe placed them before him; and dipping hispen in hisinkand leaning his breast over the tablehe disposedeverythingto make the gentleman's last will and testament
Alas! MONSIEUR LE NOTAIREsaid the gentlemanraising himself upa littleI have nothing to bequeathwhich will pay the expense ofbequeathingexcept the history of myselfwhich I could not die inpeaceunless I left it as a legacy to the world: the profitsarisingout of it I bequeath to you for the pains of taking it fromme. - Itis a story so uncommonit must be read by all mankind; -it willmake the fortunes of your house. - The notary dipp'd hispen intohis inkhorn. - Almighty Director of every event in mylife! saidthe old gentlemanlooking up earnestlyand raising hishandstowards heaven- Thouwhose hand has led me on through suchalabyrinth of strange passages down into this scene of desolationassist thedecaying memory of an oldinfirmand broken-heartedman; -direct my tongue by the spirit of thy eternal truththatthisstranger may set down nought but what is written in that BOOKfrom whoserecordssaid heclasping his hands togetherI am tobecondemn'd or acquitted! - the notary held up the point of hispenbetwixt the taper and his eye. -
It is astoryMONSIEUR LE NOTAIREsaid the gentlemanwhich willrouse upevery affection in nature; - it will kill the humaneandtouch theheart of Cruelty herself with pity. -
- Thenotary was inflamed with a desire to beginand put his pen athird timeinto his ink-horn - and the old gentlemanturning alittlemore towards the notarybegan to dictate his story in thesewords: -
- Andwhere is the rest of itLa Fleur? said Ias he just thenenter'dthe room.
THEFRAGMENTAND THE BOUQUET. PARIS.
WHEN LaFleur came up close to the tableand was made tocomprehendwhat I wantedhe told me there were only two othersheets ofitwhich he had wrapped round the stalks of a bouquet tokeep ittogetherwhich he had presented to the demoiselle upon theboulevards.- Then pritheeLa Fleursaid Istep back to her tothe Countde B-'s hoteland see if thou canst get it. - There isno doubtof itsaid La Fleur; - and away he flew.
In a verylittle time the poor fellow came back quite out ofbreathwith deeper marks of disappointment in his looks than couldarise fromthe simple irreparability of the fragment. JUSTE CIEL!in lessthan two minutes that the poor fellow had taken his lasttenderfarewell of her - his faithless mistress had given his GAGED'AMOUR toone of the Count's footmen- the footman to a youngsempstress- and the sempstress to a fiddlerwith my fragment atthe end ofit. - Our misfortunes were involved together: - I gave asigh-and La Fleur echoed it back again to my ear.
- Howperfidious! cried La Fleur. - How unlucky! said I.
- I shouldnot have been mortifiedMonsieurquoth La Fleurifshe hadlost it. - Nor ILa Fleursaid Ihad I found it.
Whether Idid or no will be seen hereafter.
THE ACT OFCHARITY. PARIS.
THE manwho either disdains or fears to walk up a dark entry may beanexcellent good manand fit for a hundred thingsbut he willnot do tomake a good Sentimental Traveller. - I count little ofthe manythings I see pass at broad noondayin large and openstreets. -Nature is shyand hates to act before spectators; butin such anunobserved corner you sometimes see a single short sceneof hersworth all the sentiments of a dozen French plays compoundedtogether- and yet they are absolutely fine; - and whenever I havea morebrilliant affair upon my hands than commonas they suit apreacherjust as well as a heroI generally make my sermon out of'em; - andfor the text- "CappadociaPontus and AsiaPhrygiaandPamphylia" - is as good as any one in the Bible.
There is along dark passage issuing out from the Opera Comiqueinto anarrow street; 'tis trod by a few who humbly wait for aFIACREor wish to get off quietly o'foot when the opera isdone. At the end of ittowards the theatre'tis lighted by asmallcandlethe light of which is almost lost before you gethalf-waydownbut near the door - 'tis more for ornament than use:you see itas a fixed star of the least magnitude; it burns- butdoeslittle good to the worldthat we know of.
Inreturning along this passageI discernedas I approachedwithinfive or six paces of the doortwo ladies standing arm-in-arm withtheir backs against the wallwaitingas I imaginedfora FIACRE;- as they were next the doorI thought they had a priorright; soedged myself up within a yard or little more of themandquietlytook my stand. - I was in blackand scarce seen.
The ladynext me was a tall lean figure of a womanof aboutthirty-six;the other of the same size and makeof about forty:there wasno mark of wife or widow in any one part of either ofthem; -they seem'd to be two upright vestal sistersunsapped bycaressesunbroke in upon by tender salutations. - I could havewish'd tohave made them happy: - their happiness was destin'd thatnighttocome from another quarter.
A lowvoicewith a good turn of expressionand sweet cadence atthe end ofitbegg'd for a twelve-sous piece betwixt themfor thelove ofheaven. I thought it singular that a beggar should fix thequota ofan alms - and that the sum should be twelve times as muchas what isusually given in the dark. - They both seemed astonishedat it asmuch as myself. - Twelve sous! said one. - A twelve-souspiece!said the other- and made no reply.
The poorman saidhe knew not how to ask less of ladies of theirrank; andbow'd down his head to the ground.
Poo! saidthey- we have no money.
The beggarremained silent for a moment or twoand renew'd hissupplication.
- Do notmy fair young ladiessaid hestop your good earsagainstme. - Upon my wordhonest man! said the youngerwe haveno change.- Then God bless yousaid the poor manand multiplythose joyswhich you can give to others without change! - Iobservedthe elder sister put her hand into her pocket. - I'll seesaid sheif I have a sous. A sous! give twelvesaid thesupplicant;Nature has been bountiful to yoube bountiful to apoor man.
- I wouldfriendwith all my heartsaid the youngerif I had it.
My faircharitable! said headdressing himself to the elder-what is itbut your goodness and humanity which makes your brighteyes sosweetthat they outshine the morning even in this darkpassage?and what was it which made the Marquis de Santerre and hisbrothersay so much of you both as they just passed by?
The twoladies seemed much affected; and impulsivelyat the sametime theyboth put their hands into their pocketand each took outatwelve-sous piece.
Thecontest betwixt them and the poor supplicant was no more; - itwascontinued betwixt themselveswhich of the two should give thetwelve-souspiece in charity; - andto end the disputethey bothgave ittogetherand the man went away.
THE RIDDLEEXPLAINED. PARIS.
I STEPPEDhastily after him: it was the very man whose success inaskingcharity of the women before the door of the hotel had sopuzzledme; - and I found at once his secretor at least the basisof it: -'twas flattery.
Deliciousessence! how refreshing art thou to Nature! how stronglyare allits powers and all its weaknesses on thy side! how sweetlydost thoumix with the bloodand help it through the mostdifficultand tortuous passages to the heart!
The poormanas he was not straiten'd for timehad given it herein alarger dose: 'tis certain he had a way of bringing it into aless formfor the many sudden cases he had to do with in thestreets:but how he contrived to correctsweetenconcentreandqualifyit- I vex not my spirit with the enquiry; - it is enoughthe beggargained two twelve-sous pieces - and they can best tellthe restwho have gained much greater matters by it.
WE getforwards in the worldnot so much by doing servicesasreceivingthem; you take a withering twigand put it in theground;and then you water itbecause you have planted it.
Monsieurle Count de B-merely because he had done me one kindnessin theaffair of my passportwould go on and do me anotherthefew dayshe was at Parisin making me known to a few people ofrank; andthey were to present me to othersand so on.
I had gotmaster of my SECRET just in time to turn these honours tosomelittle account; otherwiseas is commonly the caseI shouldhave dinedor supp'd a single time or two roundand thenbyTRANSLATINGFrench looks and attitudes into plain EnglishI shouldpresentlyhave seenthat I had hold of the COUVERT ofsomemoreentertaining guest; and in course should have resigned all myplaces oneafter anothermerely upon the principle that I couldnot keepthem. - As it wasthings did not go much amiss.
I had thehonour of being introduced to the old Marquis de B-: indays ofyore he had signalized himself by some small feats ofchivalryin the COUR D'AMOURand had dress'd himself out to theidea oftilts and tournaments ever since. - The Marquis de B-wish'd tohave it thought the affair was somewhere else than in hisbrain. "He could like to take a trip to England" and asked muchof theEnglish ladies. - Stay where you areI beseech youMonsieurle Marquissaid I. - LES MESSIEURS ANGLOIS can scarce geta kindlook from them as it is. - The Marquis invited me to supper.
MonsieurP-the farmer-generalwas just as inquisitive about ourtaxes. They were very considerablehe heard. - If we knew but howto collectthemsaid Imaking him a low bow.
I couldnever have been invited to Mons. P-'s concerts upon anyotherterms.
I had beenmisrepresented to Madame de Q- as an ESPRIT. - Madame deQ- was anESPRIT herself: she burnt with impatience to see meandhear metalk. I had not taken my seatbefore I saw she did notcare asous whether I had any wit or no; - I was let into beconvincedshe had. I call heaven to witness I never once openedthe doorof my lips.
Madame deV- vow'd to every creature she met - "She had never had amoreimproving conversation with a man in her life."
There arethree epochas in the empire of a French woman. - She iscoquette- then deist-then DEVOTE: the empire during these isneverlost- she only changes her subjects when thirty-five yearsand morehave unpeopled her dominion of the slaves of loveshe re-peoples itwith slaves of infidelity- and then with the slaves ofthechurch.
Madame deV- was vibrating betwixt the first of those epochas: thecolour ofthe rose was fading fast away; - she ought to have been adeist fiveyears before the time I had the honour to pay my firstvisit.
She placedme upon the same sofa with herfor the sake ofdisputingthe point of religion more closely. - In short Madame deV- told meshe believed nothing. - I told Madame de V- it might beherprinciplebut I was sure it could not be her interest to leveltheoutworkswithout which I could not conceive how such a citadelas herscould be defended; - that there was not a more dangerousthing inthe world than for a beauty to be a deist; - that it was adebt Iowed my creed not to conceal it from her; - that I had notbeen fiveminutes sat upon the sofa beside herbut I had begun toformdesigns; - and what is itbut the sentiments of religionandthepersuasion they had excited in her breastwhich could havecheck'dthem as they rose up?
We are notadamantsaid Itaking hold of her hand; - and there isneed ofall restraintstill age in her own time steals in and laysthem onus. - But my dear ladysaid Ikissing her hand- 'tistoo - toosoon.
I declareI had the credit all over Paris of unperverting Madame deV-. - Sheaffirmed to Monsieur D- and the Abbe M-that in one halfhour I hadsaid more for revealed religionthan all theirEncyclopaediahad said against it. - I was listed directly intoMadame deV-'s COTERIE; - and she put off the epocha of deism fortwo years.
I rememberit was in this COTERIEin the middle of a discourseinwhich Iwas showing the necessity of a FIRST causewhen the youngCount deFaineant took me by the hand to the farthest corner of theroomtotell me my SOLITAIRE was pinn'd too straight about myneck. - Itshould be PLUS BADINANTsaid the Countlooking downupon hisown; - but a wordMonsieur YorickTO THE WISE -
And FROMTHE WISEMonsieur le Countreplied Imaking him a bow- ISENOUGH.
The Countde Faineant embraced me with more ardour than ever I wasembracedby mortal man.
For threeweeks together I was of every man's opinion I met. -PARDI! CEMONSIEUR YORICK A AUTANT D'ESPRIT QUE NOUS AUTRES. - ILRAISONNEBIENsaid another. - C'EST UN BON ENFANTsaid a third. -And atthis price I could have eaten and drank and been merry allthe daysof my life at Paris; but 'twas a dishonest RECKONING; - Igrewashamed of it. - It was the gain of a slave; - every sentimentof honourrevolted against it; - the higher I gotthe more was Iforcedupon my BEGGARLY SYSTEM; - the better the COTERIE- themorechildren of Art; - I languish'd for those of Nature: and onenightafter a most vile prostitution of myself to half a dozendifferentpeopleI grew sick- went to bed; - order'd La Fleur toget mehorses in the morning to set out for Italy.
I NEVERfelt what the distress of plenty was in any one shape tillnow- totravel it through the Bourbonnoisthe sweetest part ofFrance-in the heyday of the vintagewhen Nature is pouring herabundanceinto every one's lapand every eye is lifted up- ajourneythrough each step of which Music beats time to LABOURandall herchildren are rejoicing as they carry in their clusters: topassthrough this with my affections flying outand kindling ateverygroup before me- and every one of them was pregnant withadventures.-
Justheaven! - it would fill up twenty volumes; - and alas! I havebut a fewsmall pages left of this to crowd it into- and half ofthese mustbe taken up with the poor Maria my friendMr. Shandymet withnear Moulines.
The storyhe had told of that disordered maid affected me not alittle inthe reading; but when I got within the neighbourhoodwhere shelivedit returned so strong into the mindthat I couldnot resistan impulse which prompted me to go half a league out ofthe roadto the village where her parents dweltto enquire afterher.
'TisgoingI ownlike the Knight of the Woeful Countenance inquest ofmelancholy adventures. But I know not how it isbut I amnever soperfectly conscious of the existence of a soul within meas when Iam entangled in them.
The oldmother came to the door; her looks told me the story beforeshe open'dher mouth. - She had lost her husband; he had diedshesaidofanguishfor the loss of Maria's sensesabout a monthbefore. -She had feared at firstshe addedthat it would haveplunder'dher poor girl of what little understanding was left; -butonthe contraryit had brought her more to herself: - stillshe couldnot rest. - Her poor daughtershe saidcryingwaswanderingsomewhere about the road.
Why doesmy pulse beat languid as I write this? and what made LaFleurwhose heart seem'd only to be tuned to joyto pass the backof hishand twice across his eyesas the woman stood and told it?I beckonedto the postilion to turn back into the road.
When wehad got within half a league of Moulinesat a littleopening inthe road leading to a thicketI discovered poor Mariasittingunder a poplar. She was sitting with her elbow in her lapand herhead leaning on one side within her hand: - a small brookran at thefoot of the tree.
I bid thepostilion go on with the chaise to Moulines - and LaFleur tobespeak my supper; - and that I would walk after him.
She wasdress'd in whiteand much as my friend described herexceptthat her hair hung loosewhich before was twisted within asilk net.- She had superadded likewise to her jacketa pale greenribandwhich fell across her shoulder to the waist; at the end ofwhich hungher pipe. - Her goat had been as faithless as her lover;and shehad got a little dog in lieu of himwhich she had kepttied by astring to her girdle: as I looked at her dogshe drewhimtowards her with the string. - "Thou shalt not leave meSylvio"said she. I look'd in Maria's eyes and saw she wasthinkingmore of her father than of her loveror her little goat;forasshe utter'd themthe tears trickled down her cheeks.
I sat downclose by her; and Maria let me wipe them away as theyfellwithmy handkerchief. - I then steep'd it in my own- andthen inhers- and then in mine- and then I wip'd hers again; -and as Idid itI felt such undescribable emotions within meas Iam surecould not be accounted for from any combinations of matterandmotion.
I ampositive I have a soul; nor can all the books with whichmaterialistshave pester'd the world ever convince me to thecontrary.
WHEN Mariahad come a little to herselfI ask'd her if sheremembereda pale thin person of a manwho had sat down betwixther andher goat about two years before? She said she wasunsettledmuch at that timebut remembered it upon two accounts: -that illas she wasshe saw the person pitied her; and nextthather goathad stolen his handkerchiefand she had beat him for thetheft; -she had wash'd itshe saidin the brookand kept itever sincein her pocket to restore it to him in case she shouldever seehim againwhichshe addedhe had half promised her. Asshe toldme thisshe took the handkerchief out of her pocket tolet me seeit; she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vineleavestied round with a tendril; - on opening itI saw an S.marked inone of the corners.
She hadsince thatshe told mestray'd as far as Romeand walk'dround St.Peter's once- and return'd back; - that she found herway aloneacross the Apennines; - had travell'd over all Lombardywithoutmoney- and through the flinty roads of Savoy withoutshoes: -how she had borne itand how she had got supportedshecould nottell; - but GOD TEMPERS THE WINDsaid MariaTO THESHORNLAMB.
Shornindeed! and to the quicksaid I: and wast thou in my ownlandwhere I have a cottageI would take thee to itand shelterthee: thoushouldst eat of my own bread and drink of my own cup; -I would bekind to thy Sylvio; - in all thy weaknesses andwanderingsI would seek after thee and bring thee back; - when thesun wentdown I would say my prayers: and when I had done thoushouldstplay thy evening song upon thy pipenor would the incenseof mysacrifice be worse accepted for entering heaven along withthat of abroken heart!
Naturemelted within meas I utter'd this; and Maria observingasI took outmy handkerchiefthat it was steep'd too much already tobe of usewould needs go wash it in the stream. - And where willyou dryitMaria? said I. - I'll dry it in my bosomsaid she: -'twill dome good.
And isyour heart still so warmMaria? said I.
I touch'dupon the string on which hung all her sorrows: - shelook'dwith wistful disorder for some time in my face; and thenwithoutsaying any thingtook her pipe and play'd her service totheVirgin. - The string I had touched ceased to vibrate; - in amoment ortwo Maria returned to herself- let her pipe fall- androse up.
And whereare you goingMaria? said I. - She saidto Moulines. -Let us gosaid Itogether. - Maria put her arm within mineandlengtheningthe stringto let the dog follow- in that order weenter'dMoulines.
THOUGH Ihate salutations and greetings in the market-placeyetwhen wegot into the middle of thisI stopp'd to take my last lookand lastfarewell of Maria.
Mariathough not tallwas nevertheless of the first order of fineforms: -affliction had touched her looks with something that wasscarceearthly; - still she was feminine; - and so much was thereabout herof all that the heart wishesor the eye looks for inwomanthat could the traces be ever worn out of her brainandthose ofEliza out of mineshe should NOT ONLY EAT OF MY BREAD ANDDRINK OFMY OWN CUPbut Maria should lie in my bosomand be untome as adaughter.
Adieupoor luckless maiden! - Imbibe the oil and wine which thecompassionof a strangeras he journeyeth on his waynow poursinto thywounds; - the Beingwho has twice bruised theecan onlybind themup for ever.
THERE wasnothing from which I had painted out for my self sojoyous ariot of the affectionsas in this journey in the vintagethroughthis part of France; but pressing through this gateofsorrow toitmy sufferings have totally unfitted me. In everyscene offestivityI saw Maria in the background of the piecesittingpensive under her poplar; and I had got almost to Lyonsbefore Iwas able to cast a shade across her.
- DearSensibility! source inexhausted of all that's precious inour joysor costly in our sorrows! thou chainest thy martyr downupon hisbed of straw - and 'tis thou who lift'st him up to Heaven!- EternalFountain of our feelings! - 'tis here I trace thee - andthis isthy "DIVINITY WHICH STIRS WITHIN ME;" - not thatin somesad andsickening moments"MY SOUL SHRINKS BACK UPON HERSELFANDSTARTLESAT DESTRUCTION;" - mere pomp of words! - but that I feelsomegenerous joys and generous cares beyond myself; - all comesfrom theegreat - great SENSORIUM of the world! which vibratesifa hair ofour heads but falls upon the groundin the remotestdesert ofthy creation. - Touch'd with theeEugenius draws mycurtainwhen I languish - hears my tale of symptomsand blames theweatherfor the disorder of his nerves. Thou giv'st a portion ofitsometimes to the roughest peasant who traverses the bleakestmountains;- he finds the lacerated lamb of another's flock. - Thismoment Ibehold him leaning with his head against his crookwithpiteousinclination looking down upon it! - Oh! had I come onemomentsooner! it bleeds to death! - his gentle heart bleeds withit. -
Peace totheegenerous swain! - I see thou walkest off withanguish-but thy joys shall balance it; - forhappy is thycottage-and happy is the sharer of it- and happy are the lambswhichsport about you!
A SHOEcoming loose from the fore foot of the thill-horseat thebeginningof the ascent of mount Taurirathe postilion dismountedtwistedthe shoe offand put it in his pocket; as the ascent wasof five orsix milesand that horse our main dependenceI made apoint ofhaving the shoe fastened on againas well as we could;but thepostilion had thrown away the nailsand the hammer in thechaise boxbeing of no great use without themI submitted to goon.
He had notmounted half a mile higherwhencoming to a flintypiece ofroadthe poor devil lost a second shoeand from off hisother forefoot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest; andseeing ahouse about a quarter of a mile to the left handwith agreat dealto do I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it.The lookof the houseand of every thing about itas we drewnearersoon reconciled me to the disaster. - It was a little farm-housesurrounded with about twenty acres of vineyardabout asmuch corn;- and close to the houseon one sidewas a POTAGERIEof an acreand a halffull of everything which could make plentyin aFrench peasant's house; - andon the other sidewas a littlewoodwhich furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eightin theevening when I got to the house - so I left the postilion tomanage hispoint as he could; - andfor mineI walked directlyinto thehouse.
The familyconsisted of an old grey-headed man and his wifewithfive orsix sons and sons-in-lawand their several wivesand ajoyousgenealogy out of them.
They wereall sitting down together to their lentil-soup; a largewheatenloaf was in the middle of the table; and a flagon of wineat eachend of it promised joy through the stages of the repast: -'twas afeast of love.
The oldman rose up to meet meand with a respectful cordialitywould haveme sit down at the table; my heart was set down themoment Ienter'd the room; so I sat down at once like a son of thefamily;and to invest myself in the character as speedily as IcouldIinstantly borrowed the old man's knifeand taking up theloafcutmyself a hearty luncheon; andas I did itI saw atestimonyin every eyenot only of an honest welcomebut of awelcomemix'd with thanks that I had not seem'd to doubt it.
Was itthis? or tell meNaturewhat else it was that made thismorsel sosweet- and to what magic I owe itthat the draught Itook oftheir flagon was so delicious with itthat they remainupon mypalate to this hour?
If thesupper was to my taste- the grace which followed it wasmuch moreso.
WHENsupper was overthe old man gave a knock upon the table withthe haftof his knifeto bid them prepare for the dance: themoment thesignal was giventhe women and girls ran altogetherinto aback apartment to tie up their hair- and the young men tothe doorto wash their facesand change their sabots; and in threeminutesevery soul was ready upon a little esplanade before thehouse tobegin. - The old man and his wife came out lastandplacing mebetwixt themsat down upon a sofa of turf by the door.
The oldman had some fifty years ago been no mean performer uponthevielle- and at the age he was then oftouch'd it well enoughfor thepurpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune- thenintermitted- and join'd her old man againas theirchildrenand grand-children danced before them.
It was nottill the middle of the second dancewhenfrom somepauses inthe movementswherein they all seemed to look upIfancied Icould distinguish an elevation of spirit different fromthat whichis the cause or the effect of simple jollity. In awordIthought I beheld RELIGION mixing in the dance: - butas Ihad neverseen her so engagedI should have look'd upon it now asone of theillusions of an imagination which is eternallymisleadingmehad not the old manas soon as the dance endedsaidthatthis was their constant way; and that all his life longhe hadmade it a ruleafter supper was overto call out hisfamily todance and rejoice; believinghe saidthat a cheerfulandcontented mind was the best sort of thanks to heaven that anilliteratepeasant could pay-
Or alearned prelate eithersaid I.
THE CASEOF DELICACY.
WHEN youhave gained the top of Mount Taurirayou run presentlydown toLyons: - adieuthento all rapid movements! 'Tis ajourney ofcaution; and it fares better with sentimentsnot to bein a hurrywith them; so I contracted with a voiturin to take histime witha couple of mulesand convoy me in my own chaise safe toTurinthrough Savoy.
Poorpatientquiethonest people! fear not: your povertythetreasuryof your simple virtueswill not be envied you by theworldnorwill your valleys be invaded by it. - Nature! in themidst ofthy disordersthou art still friendly to the scantinessthou hastcreated: with all thy great works about theelittle hastthou leftto giveeither to the scythe or to the sickle; - but tothatlittle thou grantest safety and protection; and sweet are thedwellingswhich stand so shelter'd.
Let theway-worn traveller vent his complaints upon the suddenturns anddangers of your roads- your rocks- your precipices; -thedifficulties of getting up- the horrors of getting down-mountainsimpracticable- and cataractswhich roll down greatstonesfrom their summitsand block his road up. - The peasantshad beenall day at work in removing a fragment of this kindbetweenSt. Michael and Madane; andby the time my voiturin got tothe placeit wanted full two hours of completing before a passagecould anyhow be gain'd: there was nothing but to wait withpatience;- 'twas a wet and tempestuous night; so that by thedelayandthat togetherthe voiturin found himself obliged to putup fivemiles short of his stage at a little decent kind of an innby theroadside.
Iforthwith took possession of my bedchamber - got a good fire -order'dsupper; and was thanking heaven it was no worsewhen avoiturearrived with a lady in it and her servant maid.
As therewas no other bed-chamber in the housethe hostess-withoutmuch nicetyled them into minetelling themas sheusher'dthem inthat there was nobody in it but an Englishgentleman;- that there were two good beds in itand a closetwithin theroom which held another. The accent in which she spokeof thisthird beddid not say much for it; - howevershe saidthere werethree beds and but three peopleand she durst saythegentlemanwould do anything to accommodate matters. - I left notthe lady amoment to make a conjecture about it - so instantly madeadeclaration that I would do anything in my power.
As thisdid not amount to an absolute surrender of my bed-chamberI stillfelt myself so much the proprietoras to have a right todo thehonours of it; - so I desired the lady to sit down-pressedher into the warmest seat- called for more wood-desiredthe hostess to enlarge the plan of the supperand tofavour uswith the very best wine.
The ladyhad scarce warm'd herself five minutes at the firebeforeshe beganto turn her head backand give a look at the beds; andtheoftener she cast her eyes that waythe more they return'dperplexd;- I felt for her - and for myself: for in a few minuteswhat byher looksand the case itselfI found myself as muchembarrassedas it was possible the lady could be herself.
That thebeds we were to lie in were in one and the same roomwasenoughsimply by itself to have excited all this; - but thepositionof themfor they stood paralleland so very close toeach otheras only to allow space for a small wicker chair betwixtthemrendered the affair still more oppressive to us; - they werefixed upmoreover near the fire; and the projection of the chimneyon onesideand a large beam which cross'd the room on the otherformed akind of recess for them that was no way favourable to thenicety ofour sensations: - if anything could have added to ititwas thatthe two beds were both of them so very smallas to cut usoff fromevery idea of the lady and the maid lying together; whichin eitherof themcould it have been feasiblemy lying besidethemthough a thing not to be wish'dyet there was nothing in itsoterrible which the imagination might not have pass'd overwithouttorment.
As for thelittle room withinit offer'd little or no consolationto us:'twas a dampcold closetwith a half dismantled window-shutterand with a window which had neither glass nor oil paper init to keepout the tempest of the night. I did not endeavour tostifle mycough when the lady gave a peep into it; so it reducedthe casein course to this alternative - That the lady shouldsacrificeher health to her feelingsand take up with the closetherselfand abandon the bed next mine to her maid- or that thegirlshould take the closet&c.&c.
The ladywas a Piedmontese of about thirtywith a glow of healthin hercheeks. The maid was a Lyonoise of twentyand as brisk andlively aFrench girl as ever moved. - There were difficulties everyway- andthe obstacle of the stone in the roadwhich brought usinto thedistressgreat as it appeared whilst the peasants wereremovingitwas but a pebble to what lay in our ways now. - I haveonly toaddthat it did not lessen the weight which hung upon ourspiritsthat we were both too delicate to communicate what we feltto eachother upon the occasion.
We satdown to supper; and had we not had more generous wine to itthan alittle inn in Savoy could have furnish'dour tongues hadbeen tieduptill necessity herself had set them at liberty; - butthe ladyhaving a few bottles of Burgundy in her voituresent downher FILLEDE CHAMBRE for a couple of them; so that by the timesupper wasoverand we were left alonewe felt ourselves inspiredwith astrength of mind sufficient to talkat leastwithoutreserveupon our situation. We turn'd it every wayand debatedandconsidered it in all kinds of lights in the course of a twohours'negotiation; at the end of which the articles were settledfinallybetwixt usand stipulated for in form and manner of atreaty ofpeace- and I believe with as much religion and goodfaith onboth sides as in any treaty which has yet had the honourof beinghanded down to posterity.
They wereas follow: -
Firstasthe right of the bed-chamber is in Monsieur- and hethinkingthe bed next to the fire to be the warmesthe insistsupon theconcession on the lady's side of taking up with it.
Grantedon the part of Madame; with a provisoThat as thecurtainsof that bed are of a flimsy transparent cottonand appearlikewisetoo scanty to draw closethat the FILLE DE CHAMBRE shallfasten upthe openingeither by corking pinsor needle andthreadinsuch manner as shall be deem'd a sufficient barrier onthe sideof Monsieur.
2dly. It is required on the part of Madamethat Monsieur shalllie thewhole night through in his ROBE DE CHAMBRE.
Rejected:inasmuch as Monsieur is not worth a ROBE DE CHAMBRE; hehavingnothing in his portmanteau but six shirts and a black silkpair ofbreeches.
Thementioning the silk pair of breeches made an entire change ofthearticle- for the breeches were accepted as an equivalent forthe ROBEDE CHAMBRE; and so it was stipulated and agreed uponthatI shouldlie in my black silk breeches all night.
3dly. It was insisted upon and stipulated for by the ladythatafterMonsieur was got to bedand the candle and fireextinguishedthat Monsieur should not speak one single word thewholenight.
Granted;provided Monsieur's saying his prayers might not be deemedaninfraction of the treaty.
There wasbut one point forgot in this treatyand that was themanner inwhich the lady and myself should be obliged to undressand get tobed; - there was but one way of doing itand that Ileave tothe reader to devise; protesting as I do itthat if it isnot themost delicate in nature'tis the fault of his ownimagination- against which this is not my first complaint.
Nowwhenwe were got to bedwhether it was the novelty of thesituationor what it wasI know not; but so it wasI could notshut myeyes; I tried this sideand thatand turn'd and turn'dagaintill a full hour after midnight; when Nature and patiencebothwearing out- Omy God! said I.
- You havebroke the treatyMonsieursaid the ladywho had nomore sleptthan myself. - I begg'd a thousand pardons - butinsistedit was no more than an ejaculation. She maintained 'twasan entireinfraction of the treaty - I maintained it was providedfor in theclause of the third article.
The ladywould by no means give up her pointthough she weaken'dherbarrier by it; for in the warmth of the disputeI could heartwo orthree corking pins fall out of the curtain to the ground.
Upon myword and honourMadamesaid I- stretching my arm out ofbed by wayof asseveration. -
(I wasgoing to have addedthat I would not have trespassedagainstthe remotest idea of decorum for the world); -
But theFILLE DE CHAMBRE hearing there were words between usandfearingthat hostilities would ensue in coursehad crept silentlyout of herclosetand it being totally darkhad stolen so closeto ourbedsthat she had got herself into the narrow passage whichseparatedthemand had advanced so far up as to be in a linebetwixther mistress and me: -
So thatwhen I stretch'd out my hand I caught hold of the FILLE DECHAMBRE'S-