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A Sentimental Journey though France and Italy
They order, said I, this matter better in France
You have been in France? said my gentleman, turning quick upon me with the most civil triumph in the world.
Strange! quoth I, debating the matter with myself, That one and twenty miles sailing, for 't is absolutely no further from Dover to Calais, should give a man these rights I'll look into them: so giving up the argument I went straight to my lodgings, put up half a dozen shirts and a black pair of silk breeches "the coat I have on," said I, looking at the sleeve, "will do" took a place in the Dover stage; and the packet sailing at nine the next morning by three I had got sat down to my dinner upon a fricaseed chicken, so incontestibly in France, that had I died that night of an indigestion, the whole world could not have suspended the effects of the Droits d' aubaine1 my shirts, and black pair of silk breeches portmanteau and all must have gone to the King of France even the little picture which I have so long worn, and so often have told thee, Eliza, I would carry with me into my grave, would have been torn from my neck. Ungenerous! to seize upon the wreck of an unwary passenger, whom your subjects had beckon'd to their coast by heaven! SIRE, it is not well done; and much does it grieve me, 't is the monarch of a people so civilized and courteous, and so renowned for sentiment and fine feelings, that I have to reason with
But I have scarce set foot in your dominion
1 All the effects of strangers (Swiss and Scotch excepted) dying in France, are seized by virtue of this law, though the heir 6e upon the spot-the profit of these contingencies being farmed, there is no redress.
WHEN I had finish'd my dinner, and drank the King of France's health, to satisfy my mind that I bore him no spleen, but, on the contrary, high honour for the humanity of his temper I rose up an inch taller for the accommodation.
No said I the Bourbon is by no means a cruel race: they may be misled like other people; but there is a mildness in their blood. As I acknowledged this, I felt a suffusion of a finer kind upon my cheek-more warm and friendly to man, than what Burgundy (at least of two livres a bottle, which was such as I had been drinking) could have produced.
Just God! said I, kicking my portmanteau aside, what is there in this world's goods which should sharpen our spirits, and make so many kind-hearted brethren of us fall out so cruelly as we do by the way?
When man is at peace with man, how much lighter than a feather is the heaviest of metals in his hand! he pulls out his purse, and holding it airily and uncompress'd looks round him, as if he sought for an object to share it with. In doing this, I felt every vessel in my frame dilate the arteries beat all chearily together, and every power which sustained life, performed it with so little friction, that 't would have confounded the most physical precieuse in France: with all her materialism, she could scarce have called me a machine
I'm confident, said I to myself, I should have overset her creed.
The accession of that idea carried nature, at that time, as high as she could go I was at peace with the world before, and this finish'd the treaty with myself
Now, was I a King of France, cried I what a moment for an orphan to have begg'd his father's portmanteau of me!
I HAD scarce uttered the words, when a poor monk of the order of St. Francis came into the room to beg something for his convent. No man cares to have his virtues the sport of contingencies -or one man may be generous, as another man is puissant sed non quo ad hanc or be it as it may for there is no regular reasoning upon the ebbs and flows of our humours; they may depend upon the same causes, for aught I know, which influence the tides themselves 'twould oft be no discredit to us, to suppose it was so: I'm sure at least for myself, that in many a case I should be more highly satisfied, to have it said by the world, "I had had an affair with the moon, in which there was neither sin nor shame," than have it pass altogether as my own act and deed, wherein there was so much of both.
But be this as it may. The moment I cast my eyes upon him, I was predetermined not to give him a single sous; and accordingly I put my purse into my pocket button'd it up set myself a little more upon my center, and advanced up gravely to him: there was something, I fear, forbidding in my look: I have his figure this moment before my eyes, and think there was that in it which deserved better.
The monk, as I judged from the break in his tonsure, a few scatter'd white hairs upon his temples being all that remained of it, might be about seventy but from his eyes, and that sort of fire which was in them, which seemed more temper'd by courtesy than years, could be no more than sixty Truth might lie between He was certainly sixty-five; and the general air of his countenance, notwithstanding something seem'd to have been planting wrinkles in it before their time, agreed to the account.
It was one of those heads which Guido has often painted mild, pale penetrating, free from all commonplace ideas of fat contented ignorance looking downwards upon the earth it look'd forwards; but look'd, as if it look'd at something beyond this world. How one of his order came by it, heaven above, who let it fall upon a monk's shoulders, best knows; but it would have suited a Bramin, and had I met it upon the plains of Indostan, I had reverenced it.
The rest of his outline may be given in a few strokes; one might put it into the hands of any one to design, for 't was neither elegant or otherwise, but as character and expression made it so: it was a thin, spare form, something above the common size, if it lost not the distinction by a bend forward in the figure but it was the attitude of Entreaty; and as it now stands presented to my imagination, it gain'd more than it lost by it.
When he had entered the room three paces, he stood still; and laying his left hand upon his breast (a slender white staff with which he journey'd being in his right) when I had got close up to him, he introduced himself with the little story of the wants of his convent, and the poverty of his order and did it with so simple a grace and such an air of deprecation was there in the whole cast of his look and figure I was bewitch'd not to have been struck with it
A better reason was, I had predetermined not to give him a single sous.
'T IS very true, said I, replying to a cast upwards with his eyes, with which he had concluded his address 't is very true and heaven be their resource who have no other but the charity of the world, the stock of which, I fear, is no way sufficient for the many great claims which are hourly made upon it.
As I pronounced the words great claims, he gave a slight glance with his eye downwards upon the sleeve of his tunic I felt the full force of the appeal I acknowledge it, said I a coarse habit, and that but once in three years, with meagre diet are no great matters; and the true point of pity is, as they can be earn'd in the world with so little industry, that your order should wish to procure them by pressing upon a fund which is the property of the lame, the blind, the aged, and the infirm the captive who lies down counting over and over again the days of his afflictions, languishes also for his share of it; and had you been of the order of mercy, instead of the order of St. Francis, poor as I am, continued I, pointing at my portmanteau, full chearfully should it have been open'd to you, for the ransom of the unfortunate The monk made me a bow but of all others, resumed I, the unfortunate of our own country, surely, have the first rights; and I have left thousands in distress upon our own shore-The monk gave a cordial wave with his head-as much as to say, No doubt, there is misery enough in every corner of the world, as well as within our convent But we distinguish, said I, laying my hand upon the sleeve of his tunic, in return for his appeal we distinguish, my good father! betwixt those who wish only to eat the bread of their own labour and those who eat the bread of other people's, and have no other plan in life, but to get through it in sloth and ignorance, for the love of God.
The poor Franciscan made no reply: a hectic of a moment pass'd across his cheek, but could not tarry Nature seemed to have done with her resentments in him; he shewed none but letting his staff fall within his arm, he press'd both his hands with resignation upon his breast, and retired.
MY heart smote me the moment he shut the door Psha! said I, with an air of carelessness, three several times but it would not do: every ungracious syllable I had utter'd, crowded back into my imagination: I reflected, I had no right over the poor Franciscan, but to deny him; and that the punishment of that was enough to the disappointed, without the addition of unkind language I considered his grey hairs his courteous figure seem'd to reenter and gently ask me what injury he had done me? and why I could use him thus? I would have given twenty livres for an advocate I have behaved very ill, said I within myself; but I have only just set out upon my travels; and shall learn better manners as I get along.
WHEN a man is discontented with himself, it has one advantage however, that it puts him into an excellent frame of mind for making a bargain. Now there being no travelling through France and Italy without a chaise and nature generally prompting us to the thing we are fittest for, I walk'd out into the coach-yard to buy or hire something of that kind to my purpose: an old Dιsobligeant1 in the furthest corner of the court hit my fancy at first sight, so I instantly got into it, and finding it in tolerable harmony with my feelings, I ordered the waiter to call Monsieur Dessein, the master of the hotel but Monsieur Dessein being gone to vespers, and not caring to face the Franciscan, whom I saw on the opposite side of the court, in conference with a lady just arrived at the inn I drew the taffeta curtain betwixt us, and being determined to write my journey, I took out my pen and ink, and wrote the preface to it in the Dιsobligeant.
1 A Chaise, so called in France, from its holding but one person.
IT must have been observed by many a peripatetic philosopher, That nature has set up by her own unquestionable authority certain boundaries and fences to circumscribe the discontent of man: she has effected her purpose in the quietest and easiest manner, by laying him under almost insuperable obligations to work out his ease, and to sustain his suffering at home. It is there only that she has provided him with the most suitable objects to partake of his happiness, and bear a part of that burthen, which, in all countries and ages, has ever been too heavy for one pair of shoulders. 'T is true, we are endued with an imperfect power of spreading our happiness sometimes beyond her limits, but 't is so ordered, that, from the want of languages, connections, and dependencies, and from the difference in educations, customs, and habits, we lie under so many impediments in communicating our sensations out of our own sphere, as often amount to a total impossibility.
It will always follow from hence, that the balance of sentimental commerce is always against the expatriated adventurer: he must buy what he has little occasion for, at their own price his conversation will seldom be taken in exchange for theirs without a large discount and this, by the bye, eternally driving him into the hands of more equitable brokers, for such conversation as he can find, it requires no great spirit of divination to guess at his party
This brings me to my point; and naturally leads me (if the see-saw of this Dιsobligeant will but let me get on) into the efficient as well as final causes of travelling
Your idle people that leave their native country, and go abroad for some reason or reasons which may be derived from one of these general causes
Infirmity of body,
Imbecility of the mind, or
The two first include all those who travel by land or by water, labouring with pride, curiosity, vanity, or spleen, subdivided and combined in infinitum.
The third class includes the whole army of peregrine martyrs; more especially those travellers who set out upon their travels with the benefit of the clergy, either as delinquents travelling under the direction of governors recommended by the magistrate or young gentlemen transported by the cruelty of parents and guardians, and travelling under the direction of governors recommended by Oxford, Aberdeen, and Glasgow.
There is a fourth class, but their number is so small, that they would not deserve a distinction, was it not necessary in a work of this nature to observe the greatest precision and nicety, to avoid a confusion of character. And these men I speak of, are such as cross the seas and sojourn in a land of strangers, with a view of saving money for various reasons and upon various pretences: but as they might also save themselves and others a great deal of unnecessary trouble by saving their money at home and as their reasons for travelling are the least complex of any other species of emigrants, I shall distinguish these gentlemen by the name of
Thus the whole circle of travellers may be reduced to the following heads:
The Travellers of Necessity,
The delinquent and felonious Traveller,
The unfortunate and innocent Traveller,
The simple Traveller,
And last of all (if you please) The Sentimental Traveller (meaning thereby myself), who have travell'd, and of which I am now sitting down to give an account-as much out of Necessity, and the besoin de Voyager, as any one in the class.
I am well aware, at the same time, as both my travels and observations will be altogether of a different cast from any of my fore-runners; that I might have insisted upon a whole nitch entirely to myself but I should break in upon the confines of the Vain Traveller, in wishing to draw attention towards me, till I have some better grounds for it, than the mere Novelty of my Vehicle. It is sufficient for my reader, if he has been a Traveller himself, that with study and reflection hereupon he may be able to determine his own place and rank in the catalogue it will be one step towards knowing himself, as it is great odds but he retains some tincture and resemblance of what he imbibed or carried out, to the present hour. The man who first transplanted the grape of Burgundy to the Cape of Good Hope (observe he was a Dutchman) never dreamt of drinking the same wine at the Cape, that the same grape produced upon the French mountains he was too phlegmatic for that but undoubtedly he expected to drink some sort of vinous liquor; but whether good, bad, or indifferent he knew enough of this world to know, that it did not depend upon his choice, but that what is generally called chance was to decide his success: however, he hoped for the best: and in these hopes, by an intemperate confidence in the fortitude of his head, and the depth of his discretion, Mynheer might possibly overset both in his new vineyard; and by discovering his nakedness, become a laughing-stock to his people.
Even so it fares with the poor Traveller, sailing and posting through the politer kingdoms of the globe, in pursuit of knowledge and improvements.
Knowledge and improvements are to be got by sailing and posting for that purpose; but whether useful knowledge and real improvements, is all a lottery and even where the adventurer is successful, the acquired stock must be used with caution and sobriety, to turn to any profit but as the chances run prodigiously the other way, both as to the acquisition and application, I am of opinion, That a man would act as wisely, if he could prevail upon himself to live contented without foreign knowledge or foreign improvements, especially if he lives in a country that has no absolute want of either and indeed, much grief of heart has it oft and many a time cost me, when I have observed how many a foul step the inquisitive Traveller has measured to see sights and look into discoveries; all which, as Sancho Panηa said to Don Quixote, they might have seen dry-shod at home. It is an age so full of light, that there is scarce a country or corner of Europe, whose beams are not crossed and interchanged with others Knowledge in most of its branches, and in most affairs, is like music in an Italian street, whereof those may partake, who pay nothing But there is no nation under heaven and GOD is my record (before whose tribunal I must one day come and give an account of this work) that I do not speak it vauntingly But there is no nation under heaven abounding with more variety of learning where the sciences may be more fitly woo'd, or more surely won, than here where art is encouraged, and will soon rise high where Nature (take her altogether) has so little to answer for and, to close all, where there is more wit and variety of character to feed the mind with Where then, my dear countrymen, are you going
We are only looking at this chaise, said they Your most obedient servant, said I, skipping out of it, and pulling off my hat We were wondering, said one of them, who, I found, was an inquisitive Traveller, what could occasion its motion. 'T was the agitation, said I coolly, of writing a preface. I never heard, said the other, who was a simple Traveller, of a preface wrote in a Dιsobligeant. It would have been better, said I, in a Vis ΰ Vis.
As an Englishman does not travel to see Englishmen, I retired to my room.
I PERCEIVED that something darken'd the passage more than myself, as I stepp'd along it to my room; it was effectually Mons. Dessein, the master of the hotel, who had just returned from vespers, and, with his hat under his arm, was most complaisantly following me, to put me in mind of my wants. I had wrote myself pretty well out of conceit with the Dιsobligeant; and Mons. Dessein speaking of it, with a shrug, as if it would no way suit me, it immediately struck my fancy that it belong'd to some innocent Traveller, who, on his return home, had left it to Mons. Dessein's honour to make the most of. Four months had elapsed since it had finished its career of Europe in the corner of Mons. Dessein's coach-yard; and having sallied out from thence but a vampt-up business at the first, though it had been twice taken to pieces on Mount Sennis, it had not profited much by its adventures but by none so little as the standing so many months unpitied in the corner of Mons. Dessein's coach-yard. Much indeed was not to be said for it but something might and when a few words will rescue misery out of her distress, I hate the man who can be a churl of them.
Now was I the master of this hotel, said I, laying the point of my fore-finger on Mons. Dessein's breast, I would inevitably make a point of getting rid of this unfortunate Dιsobligeant it stands swinging reproaches at you every time you pass by it.
Mon Dieu! said Mons. Dessein I have no interest Except the interest, said I, which men of a certain turn of mind take, Mons. Dessein, in their own sensations I'm persuaded, to a man who feels for others as well as for himself, every rainy night, disguise it as you will, must cast a damp upon your spirits You suffer, Mons. Dessein, as much as the machine
I have always observed, when there is as much sour as sweet in a compliment, that an Englishman is eternally at a loss within himself, whether to take it or let it alone: a Frenchman never is: Mons. Dessein made me a bow.
C'est bien vrai, said he But in this case I should only exchange one disquietude for another, and with loss: figure to yourself, my dear Sir, that in giving you a chaise which would fall to pieces before you had got half way to Paris-figure to yourself how much I should suffer, in giving an ill impression of myself to a man of honour, and lying at the mercy, as I must do, dun homme d'esprit.
The dose was made up exactly after my own prescription; so I could not help taking it and returning Mons. Dessein his bow, without more casuistry we walk'd together towards his Rιmise, to take a view of his magazine of chaises.
IT must needs be a hostile kind of a world, when the buyer (if it be but of a sorry post-chaise) cannot go forth with the seller thereof into the street, to terminate the difference betwixt them, but he instantly falls into the same frame of mind, and views his conventionist with the same sort of eye, as if he was going along with him to Hyde-park-corner to fight a duel. For my own part, being but a poor swordsman, and no way a match for Monsieur Dessein, I felt the rotation of all the movements within me, to which the situation is incident I looked at Monsieur Dessein through and through eyed him as he walk'd along in profile then, en face thought he look'd like a Jew then a Turk disliked his wig cursed him by my gods wished him at the devil
And is all this to be lighted up in the heart for a beggarly account of three or four louis d'ors, which is the most I can be overreach'd in? Base passion! said I, turning myself about, as a man naturally does upon a sudden reverse of sentiment base ungentle passion! thy hand is against every man, and every man's hand against thee Heaven forbid! said she, raising her hand up to her forehead, for I had turned full in front upon the lady whom I had seen in conference with the monk she had followed us unperceived Heaven forbid, indeed! said I, offering her my own she had a black pair of silk gloves, open only at the thumb and two fore-fingers, so accepted it without reserve and I led her up to the door of the Rιmise.
Monsieur Dessein had diabled the key above fifty times, before he found out he had come with a wrong one in his hand: we were as impatient as himself to have it open'd; and so attentive to the obstacle, that I continued holding her hand almost without knowing it: so that Monsieur Dessein left us together, with her hand in mine, and with our faces turned towards the door of the Rιmise, and said he would be back in five minutes.
Now a colloquy of five minutes, in such a situation, is worth one of as many ages, with your faces turned towards the street: in the latter case, 't is drawn from the objects and occurrences without when your eyes are fixed upon a dead blank- you draw purely from yourselves. A silence of a single moment upon Mons. Dessein's leaving us, had been fatal to the situation she had infallibly turned about so I begun the conversation instantly
But what were the temptations (as I write not to apologise for the weaknesses of my heart in this tour, but to give an account of them) shall be described with the same simplicity, with which I felt them.
WHEN I told the reader that I did not care to get out of the Dιsobligeant, because I saw the monk in close conference with a lady just arrived at the inn I told him the whole truth; for I was full as much restrained by the appearance and figure of the lady he was talking to. Suspicion crossed my brain, and said, he was telling her what had passed; something jarred upon it within me I wished him at his convent.
When the heart flies out before the understanding, it saves the judgment a world of pains I was certain she was of a better order of beings however, I thought no more of her, but went on and wrote my preface.
The impression returned upon my encounter with her in the street; a guarded frankness with which she gave me her hand, shewed, I thought, her good education and her good sense; and as I led her on, I felt a pleasurable ductility about her, which spread a calmness over all my spirits
Good God! how a man might lead such a creature as this round the world with him!
I had not yet seen her face 't was not material; for the drawing was instantly set about, and long before we had got to the door of the Rιmise, Fancy had finish'd the whole head, and pleased herself as much with its fitting her goddess, as if she had dived into the TIBER for it but thou art a seduced, and a seducing slut; and albeit thou cheatest us seven times a day with thy pictures, and images, yet with so many charms dost thou do it, and thou deckest out thy pictures in the shapes of so many angels of light, 't is a shame to break with thee.
When we had got to the door of the Rιmise, she withdrew her hand from across her forehead, and let me see the original it was a face of about six and twenty of a clear transparent brown, simply set off without rouge or powder it was not critically handsome, but there was that in it, which, in the frame of mind I was in, attached me much more to it it was interesting; I fancied it wore the characters of a widow'd look, and in that state of its declension, which had passed the two first paroxysms of sorrow, and was quietly beginning to reconcile itself to its loss-but a thousand other distresses might have traced the same lines; I wish'd to know what they had been and was ready to enquire (had the same bon ton of conversation permitted, as in the days of Esdras1)
"What aileth thee? and why art thou disquieted? and why is thy understanding troubled?" In a word, I felt benevolence for her; and resolv'd some way or other to throw in my mite of courtesy if not of service.
Such were my temptations and in this disposition to give way to them, was I left alone with the lady with her hand in mine, and with our faces both turned closer to the door of the Rιmise than what was absolutely necessary.
1 The first two books of the Apocrypha.
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