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A Sentimental Journey
by Laurence Sterne
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THE FRAGMENT. PARIS.

- Now, as the notary's wife disputed the point with the notary with too much heat,—I wish, said the notary, (throwing down the parchment) that there was another notary here only to set down and attest all this. -

- And what would you do then, Monsieur? said she, rising hastily up.—The notary's wife was a little fume of a woman, and the notary thought it well to avoid a hurricane by a mild reply.—I would go, answered he, to bed.—You may go to the devil, answer'd the notary's wife.

Now there happening to be but one bed in the house, the other two rooms being unfurnished, as is the custom at Paris, and the notary not caring to lie in the same bed with a woman who had but that moment sent him pell mell to the devil, went forth with his hat and cane and short cloak, the night being very windy, and walk'd out, ill at ease, towards the Pont Neuf.

Of all the bridges which ever were built, the whole world who have pass'd over the Pont Neuf must own, that it is the noblest,—the finest,—the grandest,—the lightest,—the longest,—the broadest, that ever conjoin'd land and land together upon the face of the terraqueous globe.

[By this it seems as if the author of the fragment had not been a Frenchman.]

The worst fault which divines and the doctors of the Sorbonne can allege against it is, that if there is but a capfull of wind in or about Paris, 'tis more blasphemously sacre Dieu'd there than in any other aperture of the whole city,—and with reason good and cogent, Messieurs; for it comes against you without crying garde d'eau, and with such unpremeditable puffs, that of the few who cross it with their hats on, not one in fifty but hazards two livres and a half, which is its full worth.

The poor notary, just as he was passing by the sentry, instinctively clapp'd his cane to the side of it, but in raising it up, the point of his cane catching hold of the loop of the sentinel's hat, hoisted it over the spikes of the ballustrade clear into the Seine. -

- 'TIS AN ILL WIND, said a boatman, who catched it, WHICH BLOWS NOBODY ANY GOOD.

The sentry, being a Gascon, incontinently twirled up his whiskers, and levell'd his arquebuss.

Arquebusses in those days went off with matches; and an old woman's paper lantern at the end of the bridge happening to be blown out, she had borrow'd the sentry's match to light it: —it gave a moment's time for the Gascon's blood to run cool, and turn the accident better to his advantage.—'TIS AN ILL WIND, said he, catching off the notary's castor, and legitimating the capture with the boatman's adage.

The poor notary crossed the bridge, and passing along the Rue de Dauphine into the fauxbourgs of St. Germain, lamented himself as he walked along in this manner: -

Luckless man that I am! said the notary, to be the sport of hurricanes all my days: —to be born to have the storm of ill language levell'd against me and my profession wherever I go; to be forced into marriage by the thunder of the church to a tempest of a woman;—to be driven forth out of my house by domestic winds, and despoil'd of my castor by pontific ones!—to be here, bareheaded, in a windy night, at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of accidents!- -Where am I to lay my head?—Miserable man! what wind in the two- and-thirty points of the whole compass can blow unto thee, as it does to the rest of thy fellow-creatures, good?

As the notary was passing on by a dark passage, complaining in this sort, a voice call'd out to a girl, to bid her run for the next notary.—Now the notary being the next, and availing himself of his situation, walk'd up the passage to the door, and passing through an old sort of a saloon, was usher'd into a large chamber, dismantled of everything but a long military pike,—a breastplate,- -a rusty old sword, and bandoleer, hung up, equidistant, in four different places against the wall.

An old personage who had heretofore been a gentleman, and unless decay of fortune taints the blood along with it, was a gentleman at that time, lay supporting his head upon his hand in his bed; a little table with a taper burning was set close beside it, and close by the table was placed a chair: —the notary sat him down in it; and pulling out his inkhorn and a sheet or two of paper which he had in his pocket, he placed them before him; and dipping his pen in his ink, and leaning his breast over the table, he disposed everything to make the gentleman's last will and testament

Alas! Monsieur le Notaire, said the gentleman, raising himself up a little, I have nothing to bequeath, which will pay the expense of bequeathing, except the history of myself, which I could not die in peace, unless I left it as a legacy to the world: the profits arising out of it I bequeath to you for the pains of taking it from me.—It is a story so uncommon, it must be read by all mankind;—it will make the fortunes of your house.—The notary dipp'd his pen into his inkhorn.—Almighty Director of every event in my life! said the old gentleman, looking up earnestly, and raising his hands towards heaven,—Thou, whose hand has led me on through such a labyrinth of strange passages down into this scene of desolation, assist the decaying memory of an old, infirm, and broken-hearted man;—direct my tongue by the spirit of thy eternal truth, that this stranger may set down nought but what is written in that BOOK, from whose records, said he, clasping his hands together, I am to be condemn'd or acquitted!—the notary held up the point of his pen betwixt the taper and his eye. -

It is a story, Monsieur le Notaire, said the gentleman, which will rouse up every affection in nature;—it will kill the humane, and touch the heart of Cruelty herself with pity. -

- The notary was inflamed with a desire to begin, and put his pen a third time into his ink-horn—and the old gentleman, turning a little more towards the notary, began to dictate his story in these words: -

- And where is the rest of it, La Fleur? said I, as he just then enter'd the room.

THE FRAGMENT, AND THE BOUQUET. {1} PARIS.

When La Fleur came up close to the table, and was made to comprehend what I wanted, he told me there were only two other sheets of it, which he had wrapped round the stalks of a bouquet to keep it together, which he had presented to the demoiselle upon the boulevards.—Then prithee, La Fleur, said I, step back to her to the Count de B-'s hotel, and see if thou canst get it.—There is no doubt of it, said La Fleur;—and away he flew.

In a very little time the poor fellow came back quite out of breath, with deeper marks of disappointment in his looks than could arise from the simple irreparability of the fragment. Juste Ciel! in less than two minutes that the poor fellow had taken his last tender farewell of her—his faithless mistress had given his gage d'amour to one of the Count's footmen,—the footman to a young sempstress,—and the sempstress to a fiddler, with my fragment at the end of it.—Our misfortunes were involved together: —I gave a sigh,—and La Fleur echoed it back again to my ear.

- How perfidious! cried La Fleur.—How unlucky! said I.

- I should not have been mortified, Monsieur, quoth La Fleur, if she had lost it.—Nor I, La Fleur, said I, had I found it.

Whether I did or no will be seen hereafter.

THE ACT OF CHARITY. PARIS.

The man who either disdains or fears to walk up a dark entry may be an excellent good man, and fit for a hundred things, but he will not do to make a good Sentimental Traveller.—I count little of the many things I see pass at broad noonday, in large and open streets.—Nature is shy, and hates to act before spectators; but in such an unobserved corner you sometimes see a single short scene of hers worth all the sentiments of a dozen French plays compounded together,—and yet they are absolutely fine;—and whenever I have a more brilliant affair upon my hands than common, as they suit a preacher just as well as a hero, I generally make my sermon out of 'em;—and for the text,—"Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,"—is as good as any one in the Bible.

There is a long dark passage issuing out from the Opera Comique into a narrow street; 'tis trod by a few who humbly wait for a fiacre, {2} or wish to get off quietly o'foot when the opera is done. At the end of it, towards the theatre, 'tis lighted by a small candle, the light of which is almost lost before you get half-way down, but near the door—'tis more for ornament than use: you see it as a fixed star of the least magnitude; it burns,—but does little good to the world, that we know of.

In returning along this passage, I discerned, as I approached within five or six paces of the door, two ladies standing arm-in- arm with their backs against the wall, waiting, as I imagined, for a fiacre;—as they were next the door, I thought they had a prior right; so edged myself up within a yard or little more of them, and quietly took my stand.—I was in black, and scarce seen.

The lady next me was a tall lean figure of a woman, of about thirty-six; the other of the same size and make, of about forty: there was no mark of wife or widow in any one part of either of them;—they seem'd to be two upright vestal sisters, unsapped by caresses, unbroke in upon by tender salutations.—I could have wish'd to have made them happy: —their happiness was destin'd that night, to come from another quarter.

A low voice, with a good turn of expression, and sweet cadence at the end of it, begg'd for a twelve-sous piece betwixt them, for the love of heaven. I thought it singular that a beggar should fix the quota of an alms—and that the sum should be twelve times as much as what is usually given in the dark.—They both seemed astonished at it as much as myself.—Twelve sous! said one.—A twelve-sous piece! said the other,—and made no reply.

The poor man said, he knew not how to ask less of ladies of their rank; and bow'd down his head to the ground.

Poo! said they,—we have no money.

The beggar remained silent for a moment or two, and renew'd his supplication.

- Do not, my fair young ladies, said he, stop your good ears against me.—Upon my word, honest man! said the younger, we have no change.—Then God bless you, said the poor man, and multiply those joys which you can give to others without change!—I observed the elder sister put her hand into her pocket.—I'll see, said she, if I have a sous. A sous! give twelve, said the supplicant; Nature has been bountiful to you, be bountiful to a poor man.

- I would friend, with all my heart, said the younger, if I had it.

My fair charitable! said he, addressing himself to the elder,—what is it but your goodness and humanity which makes your bright eyes so sweet, that they outshine the morning even in this dark passage? and what was it which made the Marquis de Santerre and his brother say so much of you both as they just passed by?

The two ladies seemed much affected; and impulsively, at the same time they both put their hands into their pocket, and each took out a twelve-sous piece.

The contest betwixt them and the poor supplicant was no more;—it was continued betwixt themselves, which of the two should give the twelve-sous piece in charity;—and, to end the dispute, they both gave it together, and the man went away.

THE RIDDLE EXPLAINED. PARIS.

I stepped hastily after him: it was the very man whose success in asking charity of the women before the door of the hotel had so puzzled me;—and I found at once his secret, or at least the basis of it: —'twas flattery.

Delicious essence! how refreshing art thou to Nature! how strongly are all its powers and all its weaknesses on thy side! how sweetly dost thou mix with the blood, and help it through the most difficult and tortuous passages to the heart!

The poor man, as he was not straiten'd for time, had given it here in a larger dose: 'tis certain he had a way of bringing it into a less form, for the many sudden cases he had to do with in the streets: but how he contrived to correct, sweeten, concentre, and qualify it,—I vex not my spirit with the enquiry;—it is enough the beggar gained two twelve-sous pieces—and they can best tell the rest, who have gained much greater matters by it.

PARIS.

We get forwards in the world, not so much by doing services, as receiving them; you take a withering twig, and put it in the ground; and then you water it, because you have planted it.

Monsieur le Count de B-, merely because he had done me one kindness in the affair of my passport, would go on and do me another, the few days he was at Paris, in making me known to a few people of rank; and they were to present me to others, and so on.

I had got master of my SECRET just in time to turn these honours to some little account; otherwise, as is commonly the case, I should have dined or supp'd a single time or two round, and then, by TRANSLATING French looks and attitudes into plain English, I should presently have seen, that I had hold of the couvert {3} of some more entertaining guest; and in course should have resigned all my places one after another, merely upon the principle that I could not keep them.—As it was, things did not go much amiss.

I had the honour of being introduced to the old Marquis de B-: in days of yore he had signalized himself by some small feats of chivalry in the Cour d'Amour, and had dress'd himself out to the idea of tilts and tournaments ever since.—The Marquis de B- wish'd to have it thought the affair was somewhere else than in his brain. "He could like to take a trip to England," and asked much of the English ladies.—Stay where you are, I beseech you, Monsieur le Marquis, said I.—Les Messieurs Anglois can scarce get a kind look from them as it is.—The Marquis invited me to supper.

Monsieur P-, the farmer-general, was just as inquisitive about our taxes. They were very considerable, he heard.—If we knew but how to collect them, said I, making him a low bow.

I could never have been invited to Mons. P-'s concerts upon any other terms.

I had been misrepresented to Madame de Q- as an esprit.—Madame de Q- was an esprit herself: she burnt with impatience to see me, and hear me talk. I had not taken my seat, before I saw she did not care a sous whether I had any wit or no;—I was let in, to be convinced she had. I call heaven to witness I never once opened the door of my lips.

Madame de V- vow'd to every creature she met—"She had never had a more improving conversation with a man in her life."

There are three epochas in the empire of a French woman.—She is coquette,—then deist,—then devote: the empire during these is never lost,—she only changes her subjects when thirty-five years and more have unpeopled her dominion of the slaves of love, she re- peoples it with slaves of infidelity,—and then with the slaves of the church.

Madame de V- was vibrating betwixt the first of those epochas: the colour of the rose was fading fast away;—she ought to have been a deist five years before the time I had the honour to pay my first visit.

She placed me upon the same sofa with her, for the sake of disputing the point of religion more closely.—In short Madame de V- told me she believed nothing.—I told Madame de V- it might be her principle, but I was sure it could not be her interest to level the outworks, without which I could not conceive how such a citadel as hers could be defended;—that there was not a more dangerous thing in the world than for a beauty to be a deist;—that it was a debt I owed my creed not to conceal it from her;—that I had not been five minutes sat upon the sofa beside her, but I had begun to form designs;—and what is it, but the sentiments of religion, and the persuasion they had excited in her breast, which could have check'd them as they rose up?

We are not adamant, said I, taking hold of her hand;—and there is need of all restraints, till age in her own time steals in and lays them on us.—But my dear lady, said I, kissing her hand,—'tis too- -too soon.

I declare I had the credit all over Paris of unperverting Madame de V-.—She affirmed to Monsieur D- and the Abbe M-, that in one half hour I had said more for revealed religion, than all their Encyclopaedia had said against it.—I was listed directly into Madame de V-'s coterie;—and she put off the epocha of deism for two years.

I remember it was in this coterie, in the middle of a discourse, in which I was showing the necessity of a FIRST cause, when the young Count de Faineant took me by the hand to the farthest corner of the room, to tell me my solitaire was pinn'd too straight about my neck.—It should be plus badinant, said the Count, looking down upon his own;—but a word, Monsieur Yorick, TO THE WISE -

And FROM THE WISE, Monsieur le Count, replied I, making him a bow,- -IS ENOUGH.

The Count de Faineant embraced me with more ardour than ever I was embraced by mortal man.

For three weeks together I was of every man's opinion I met.— Pardi! ce Monsieur Yorick a autant d'esprit que nous autres.—Il raisonne bien, said another.—C'est un bon enfant, said a third.— And at this price I could have eaten and drank and been merry all the days of my life at Paris; but 'twas a dishonest RECKONING;—I grew ashamed of it.—It was the gain of a slave;—every sentiment of honour revolted against it;—the higher I got, the more was I forced upon my BEGGARLY SYSTEM;—the better the coterie,—the more children of Art;—I languish'd for those of Nature: and one night, after a most vile prostitution of myself to half a dozen different people, I grew sick,—went to bed;—order'd La Fleur to get me horses in the morning to set out for Italy.

MARIA. MOULINES.

I never felt what the distress of plenty was in any one shape till now,—to travel it through the Bourbonnois, the sweetest part of France,—in the heyday of the vintage, when Nature is pouring her abundance into every one's lap, and every eye is lifted up,—a journey, through each step of which Music beats time to Labour, and all her children are rejoicing as they carry in their clusters: to pass through this with my affections flying out, and kindling at every group before me,—and every one of them was pregnant with adventures. -

Just heaven!—it would fill up twenty volumes;—and alas! I have but a few small pages left of this to crowd it into,—and half of these must be taken up with the poor Maria my friend, Mr. Shandy, met with near Moulines.

The story he had told of that disordered maid affected me not a little in the reading; but when I got within the neighbourhood where she lived, it returned so strong into the mind, that I could not resist an impulse which prompted me to go half a league out of the road, to the village where her parents dwelt, to enquire after her.

'Tis going, I own, like the Knight of the Woeful Countenance in quest of melancholy adventures. But I know not how it is, but I am never so perfectly conscious of the existence of a soul within me, as when I am entangled in them.

The old mother came to the door; her looks told me the story before she open'd her mouth.—She had lost her husband; he had died, she said, of anguish, for the loss of Maria's senses, about a month before.—She had feared at first, she added, that it would have plunder'd her poor girl of what little understanding was left;— but, on the contrary, it had brought her more to herself: —still, she could not rest.—Her poor daughter, she said, crying, was wandering somewhere about the road.

Why does my pulse beat languid as I write this? and what made La Fleur, whose heart seem'd only to be tuned to joy, to pass the back of his hand twice across his eyes, as the woman stood and told it? I beckoned to the postilion to turn back into the road.

When we had got within half a league of Moulines, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, I discovered poor Maria sitting under a poplar. She was sitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her hand: —a small brook ran at the foot of the tree.

I bid the postilion go on with the chaise to Moulines—and La Fleur to bespeak my supper;—and that I would walk after him.

She was dress'd in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a silk net.—She had superadded likewise to her jacket, a pale green riband, which fell across her shoulder to the waist; at the end of which hung her pipe.—Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle: as I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the string.—"Thou shalt not leave me, Sylvio," said she. I look'd in Maria's eyes and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover, or her little goat; for, as she utter'd them, the tears trickled down her cheeks.

I sat down close by her; and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell, with my handkerchief.—I then steep'd it in my own,—and then in hers,—and then in mine,—and then I wip'd hers again;—and as I did it, I felt such undescribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be accounted for from any combinations of matter and motion.

I am positive I have a soul; nor can all the books with which materialists have pester'd the world ever convince me to the contrary.

MARIA.

When Maria had come a little to herself, I ask'd her if she remembered a pale thin person of a man, who had sat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before? She said she was unsettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts: - -that ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft;—she had wash'd it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever since in her pocket to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, which, she added, he had half promised her. As she told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me see it; she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril;—on opening it, I saw an S. marked in one of the corners.

She had since that, she told me, stray'd as far as Rome, and walk'd round St. Peter's once,—and return'd back;—that she found her way alone across the Apennines;—had travell'd over all Lombardy, without money,—and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes: —how she had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell;—but GOD TEMPERS THE WIND, said Maria, TO THE SHORN LAMB.

Shorn indeed! and to the quick, said I: and wast thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it, and shelter thee: thou shouldst eat of my own bread and drink of my own cup;— I would be kind to thy Sylvio;—in all thy weaknesses and wanderings I would seek after thee and bring thee back;—when the sun went down I would say my prayers: and when I had done thou shouldst play thy evening song upon thy pipe, nor would the incense of my sacrifice be worse accepted for entering heaven along with that of a broken heart!

Nature melted within me, as I utter'd this; and Maria observing, as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steep'd too much already to be of use, would needs go wash it in the stream.—And where will you dry it, Maria? said I.—I'll dry it in my bosom, said she: — 'twill do me good.

And is your heart still so warm, Maria? said I.

I touch'd upon the string on which hung all her sorrows: —she look'd with wistful disorder for some time in my face; and then, without saying any thing, took her pipe and play'd her service to the Virgin.—The string I had touched ceased to vibrate;—in a moment or two Maria returned to herself,—let her pipe fall,—and rose up.

And where are you going, Maria? said I.—She said, to Moulines.— Let us go, said I, together.—Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string, to let the dog follow,—in that order we enter'd Moulines.

MARIA. MOULINES.

Though I hate salutations and greetings in the market-place, yet, when we got into the middle of this, I stopp'd to take my last look and last farewell of Maria.

Maria, though not tall, was nevertheless of the first order of fine forms: —affliction had touched her looks with something that was scarce earthly;—still she was feminine;—and so much was there about her of all that the heart wishes, or the eye looks for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza out of mine, she should NOT ONLY EAT OF MY BREAD AND DRINK OF MY OWN CUP, but Maria should lie in my bosom, and be unto me as a daughter.

Adieu, poor luckless maiden!—Imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journeyeth on his way, now pours into thy wounds;—the Being, who has twice bruised thee, can only bind them up for ever.

THE BOURBONNNOIS.

There was nothing from which I had painted out for my self so joyous a riot of the affections, as in this journey in the vintage, through this part of France; but pressing through this gate, of sorrow to it, my sufferings have totally unfitted me. In every scene of festivity, I saw Maria in the background of the piece, sitting pensive under her poplar; and I had got almost to Lyons before I was able to cast a shade across her.

- Dear Sensibility! source inexhausted of all that's precious in our joys, or costly in our sorrows! thou chainest thy martyr down upon his bed of straw—and 'tis thou who lift'st him up to Heaven!- -Eternal Fountain of our feelings!—'tis here I trace thee—and this is thy "DIVINITY WHICH STIRS WITHIN ME;"—not that, in some sad and sickening moments, "MY SOUL SHRINKS BACK UPON HERSELF, AND STARTLES AT DESTRUCTION;"—mere pomp of words!—but that I feel some generous joys and generous cares beyond myself;—all comes from thee, great—great SENSORIUM of the world! which vibrates, if a hair of our heads but falls upon the ground, in the remotest desert of thy creation.—Touch'd with thee, Eugenius draws my curtain when I languish—hears my tale of symptoms, and blames the weather for the disorder of his nerves. Thou giv'st a portion of it sometimes to the roughest peasant who traverses the bleakest mountains;—he finds the lacerated lamb of another's flock.—This moment I behold him leaning with his head against his crook, with piteous inclination looking down upon it!—Oh! had I come one moment sooner! it bleeds to death!—his gentle heart bleeds with it. -

Peace to thee, generous swain!—I see thou walkest off with anguish,—but thy joys shall balance it;—for, happy is thy cottage,—and happy is the sharer of it,—and happy are the lambs which sport about you!

THE SUPPER.

A shoe coming loose from the fore foot of the thill-horse, at the beginning of the ascent of mount Taurira, the postilion dismounted, twisted the shoe off, and put it in his pocket; as the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fastened on again, as well as we could; but the postilion had thrown away the nails, and the hammer in the chaise box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on.

He had not mounted half a mile higher, when, coming to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other fore foot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest; and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal to do I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and of every thing about it, as we drew nearer, soon reconciled me to the disaster.—It was a little farm- house, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corn;—and close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasant's house;—and, on the other side, was a little wood, which furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the house—so I left the postilion to manage his point as he could;—and, for mine, I walked directly into the house.

The family consisted of an old grey-headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons-in-law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them.

They were all sitting down together to their lentil-soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flagon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast: — 'twas a feast of love.

The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table; my heart was set down the moment I enter'd the room; so I sat down at once like a son of the family; and to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and, as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mix'd with thanks that I had not seem'd to doubt it.

Was it this? or tell me, Nature, what else it was that made this morsel so sweet,—and to what magic I owe it, that the draught I took of their flagon was so delicious with it, that they remain upon my palate to this hour?

If the supper was to my taste,—the grace which followed it was much more so.

THE GRACE.

When supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his knife, to bid them prepare for the dance: the moment the signal was given, the women and girls ran altogether into a back apartment to tie up their hair,—and the young men to the door to wash their faces, and change their sabots; and in three minutes every soul was ready upon a little esplanade before the house to begin.—The old man and his wife came out last, and placing me betwixt them, sat down upon a sofa of turf by the door.

The old man had some fifty years ago been no mean performer upon the vielle,—and at the age he was then of, touch'd it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune,- -then intermitted,—and join'd her old man again, as their children and grand-children danced before them.

It was not till the middle of the second dance, when, from some pauses in the movements, wherein they all seemed to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity. In a word, I thought I beheld Religion mixing in the dance: —but, as I had never seen her so engaged, I should have look'd upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said, that this was their constant way; and that all his life long he had made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay, -

Or a learned prelate either, said I.

THE CASE OF DELICACY.

When you have gained the top of Mount Taurira, you run presently down to Lyons: —adieu, then, to all rapid movements! 'Tis a journey of caution; and it fares better with sentiments, not to be in a hurry with them; so I contracted with a voiturin to take his time with a couple of mules, and convoy me in my own chaise safe to Turin, through Savoy.

Poor, patient, quiet, honest people! fear not: your poverty, the treasury of your simple virtues, will not be envied you by the world, nor will your valleys be invaded by it.—Nature! in the midst of thy disorders, thou art still friendly to the scantiness thou hast created: with all thy great works about thee, little hast thou left to give, either to the scythe or to the sickle;—but to that little thou grantest safety and protection; and sweet are the dwellings which stand so shelter'd.

Let the way-worn traveller vent his complaints upon the sudden turns and dangers of your roads,—your rocks,—your precipices;— the difficulties of getting up,—the horrors of getting down,— mountains impracticable,—and cataracts, which roll down great stones from their summits, and block his road up.—The peasants had been all day at work in removing a fragment of this kind between St. Michael and Madane; and, by the time my voiturin got to the place, it wanted full two hours of completing before a passage could any how be gain'd: there was nothing but to wait with patience;—'twas a wet and tempestuous night; so that by the delay, and that together, the voiturin found himself obliged to put up five miles short of his stage at a little decent kind of an inn by the roadside.

I forthwith took possession of my bedchamber—got a good fire— order'd supper; and was thanking heaven it was no worse, when a voiture arrived with a lady in it and her servant maid.

As there was no other bed-chamber in the house, the hostess,— without much nicety, led them into mine, telling them, as she usher'd them in, that there was nobody in it but an English gentleman;—that there were two good beds in it, and a closet within the room which held another. The accent in which she spoke of this third bed, did not say much for it;—however, she said there were three beds and but three people, and she durst say, the gentleman would do anything to accommodate matters.—I left not the lady a moment to make a conjecture about it—so instantly made a declaration that I would do anything in my power.

As this did not amount to an absolute surrender of my bed-chamber, I still felt myself so much the proprietor, as to have a right to do the honours of it;—so I desired the lady to sit down,—pressed her into the warmest seat,—called for more wood,—desired the hostess to enlarge the plan of the supper, and to favour us with the very best wine.

The lady had scarce warm'd herself five minutes at the fire, before she began to turn her head back, and give a look at the beds; and the oftener she cast her eyes that way, the more they return'd perplexd;—I felt for her—and for myself: for in a few minutes, what by her looks, and the case itself, I found myself as much embarrassed as it was possible the lady could be herself.

That the beds we were to lie in were in one and the same room, was enough simply by itself to have excited all this;—but the position of them, for they stood parallel, and so very close to each other as only to allow space for a small wicker chair betwixt them, rendered the affair still more oppressive to us;—they were fixed up moreover near the fire; and the projection of the chimney on one side, and a large beam which cross'd the room on the other, formed a kind of recess for them that was no way favourable to the nicety of our sensations: —if anything could have added to it, it was that the two beds were both of them so very small, as to cut us off from every idea of the lady and the maid lying together; which in either of them, could it have been feasible, my lying beside them, though a thing not to be wish'd, yet there was nothing in it so terrible which the imagination might not have pass'd over without torment.

As for the little room within, it offer'd little or no consolation to us: 'twas a damp, cold closet, with a half dismantled window- shutter, and with a window which had neither glass nor oil paper in it to keep out the tempest of the night. I did not endeavour to stifle my cough when the lady gave a peep into it; so it reduced the case in course to this alternative—That the lady should sacrifice her health to her feelings, and take up with the closet herself, and abandon the bed next mine to her maid,—or that the girl should take the closet, &c., &c.

The lady was a Piedmontese of about thirty, with a glow of health in her cheeks. The maid was a Lyonoise of twenty, and as brisk and lively a French girl as ever moved.—There were difficulties every way,—and the obstacle of the stone in the road, which brought us into the distress, great as it appeared whilst the peasants were removing it, was but a pebble to what lay in our ways now.—I have only to add, that it did not lessen the weight which hung upon our spirits, that we were both too delicate to communicate what we felt to each other upon the occasion.

We sat down to supper; and had we not had more generous wine to it than a little inn in Savoy could have furnish'd, our tongues had been tied up, till necessity herself had set them at liberty;—but the lady having a few bottles of Burgundy in her voiture, sent down her fille de chambre for a couple of them; so that by the time supper was over, and we were left alone, we felt ourselves inspired with a strength of mind sufficient to talk, at least, without reserve upon our situation. We turn'd it every way, and debated and considered it in all kinds of lights in the course of a two hours' negotiation; at the end of which the articles were settled finally betwixt us, and stipulated for in form and manner of a treaty of peace,—and I believe with as much religion and good faith on both sides as in any treaty which has yet had the honour of being handed down to posterity.

They were as follow: -

First, as the right of the bed-chamber is in Monsieur,—and he thinking the bed next to the fire to be the warmest, he insists upon the concession on the lady's side of taking up with it.

Granted, on the part of Madame; with a proviso, That as the curtains of that bed are of a flimsy transparent cotton, and appear likewise too scanty to draw close, that the fille de chambre shall fasten up the opening, either by corking pins, or needle and thread, in such manner as shall be deem'd a sufficient barrier on the side of Monsieur.

2dly. It is required on the part of Madame, that Monsieur shall lie the whole night through in his robe de chambre.

Rejected: inasmuch as Monsieur is not worth a robe de chambre; he having nothing in his portmanteau but six shirts and a black silk pair of breeches.

The mentioning the silk pair of breeches made an entire change of the article,—for the breeches were accepted as an equivalent for the robe de chambre; and so it was stipulated and agreed upon, that I should lie in my black silk breeches all night.

3dly. It was insisted upon and stipulated for by the lady, that after Monsieur was got to bed, and the candle and fire extinguished, that Monsieur should not speak one single word the whole night.

Granted; provided Monsieur's saying his prayers might not be deemed an infraction of the treaty.

There was but one point forgot in this treaty, and that was the manner in which the lady and myself should be obliged to undress and get to bed;—there was but one way of doing it, and that I leave to the reader to devise; protesting as I do it, that if it is not the most delicate in nature, 'tis the fault of his own imagination,—against which this is not my first complaint.

Now, when we were got to bed, whether it was the novelty of the situation, or what it was, I know not; but so it was, I could not shut my eyes; I tried this side, and that, and turn'd and turn'd again, till a full hour after midnight; when Nature and patience both wearing out,—O, my God! said I.

- You have broke the treaty, Monsieur, said the lady, who had no more slept than myself.—I begg'd a thousand pardons—but insisted it was no more than an ejaculation. She maintained 'twas an entire infraction of the treaty—I maintained it was provided for in the clause of the third article.

The lady would by no means give up her point, though she weaken'd her barrier by it; for in the warmth of the dispute, I could hear two or three corking pins fall out of the curtain to the ground.

Upon my word and honour, Madame, said I,—stretching my arm out of bed by way of asseveration. -

(I was going to have added, that I would not have trespassed against the remotest idea of decorum for the world); -

But the fille de chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet, and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me: -

So that when I stretch'd out my hand I caught hold of the fille de chambre's -

Footnotes:

{1} Nosegay.

{2} Hackney coach.

{3} Plate, napkin, knife, fork and spoon.

THE END

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