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As the passport was directed to all lieutenant-governors, governors, and commandants of cities, generals of armies, justiciaries, and all officers of justice, to let Mr. Yorick, the King's jester, and his baggage, travel quietly along – I own the triumph of obtaining the passport was not a little tarnish'd by the figure I cut in it. But there is nothing unmix'd in this world; and some of the gravest of our divines have carried it so far as to affirm that enjoyment itself was attended even with a sigh and that the greatest they knew of terminated, in a general way, in little better than a convulsion.
I remember the grave and learned Bevoriskius, in his Commentary upon the Generations from Adam, very naturally breaks off in the middle of a note, to give an account to the world of a couple of sparrows upon the out-edge of his window, which had incommoded him all the time he wrote; and, at last, had entirely taken him off from his genealogy.
'Tis strange! writes Bevoriskius, but the facts are certain; for I have had the curiosity to mark them down, one by one, with my pen; but the cocksparrow, during the little time that I could have finished the other half of this note, has actually interrupted me with the reiteration of his caresses three-and-twenty times and a half.
How merciful, adds Bevoriskius, is Heaven to his creatures!
Ill fated Yorick! that the gravest of thy brethren should be able to write that to the world which stains thy face with crimson to copy, even in thy study.
But this is nothing to my travels; - so I twice, twice beg pardon for it.
And how do you find the French? said the Count de B-, after he had given me the passport.
The reader may suppose that, after so obliging a proof of courtesy, I could not be at a loss to say some thing handsome to the enquiry.
Mais passe, pour cela. ---- Speak frankly, said he: do you find all the urbanity in the French which the world give us the honour of? .... I had found every thing, I said, which confirmed it. .... Vraiment, said the Count, les François sont polis.
To an ex cess, replied I.
The Count took notice of the word excesse, and would have it I meant more than I said. I defended myself a long time, as well as I could, against it; he insisted I had a reserve,
and that I would speak my opinion frankly.
I believe, M. le Comte, said I, that man has a certain compass, as well as an instrument; and that the social and other calls have occasion, by turns, for every key in him; so that, if you begin a note too high or too low, there must be want either in the upper or under part, to fill up the system of harmony. .... The Count de B— did not understand music; so desired me to explain it some other way... A polished
nation, my dear Count, said I, makes every one its debtor; and besides, Urbanity itself, like the fair sex, has so many charms, it goes against the heart to say it can do ill; and yet, I believe, there is but a certain line of perfection that man, take him altogether, is empower'd to arrive at; — if he gets beyond, he rather exchanges qualities than gets them. I must not presume to say how far this has affected the French in the subject we are speaking of; but should it ever be the case of the English, in the progress of their refinements, to arrive at the same polish which distinguishes the French, if we did not lose the politesse du cour, which inclines men more to humane actions than courteous ones we should at least lose that distinct variety and originality of character, which distinguishes them not only from each other, but from all the world besides.
I had a few of King William's shillings, as smooth as glass, in my pocket, and, foreseeing they would be of use in the illustration of my hypothesis, I had got them into my hand, when I had proceeded so far:
See, M. le Comte, said I, rising up, and laying them before him upon the table, -- by jingling and
, rubbing one against another for seventy years together, in one body's pocket or another's, they are become so much alike you can scarce distinguish one shilling from another.
The English, like ancient medals, kept more apart, and passing but few people's hands, preserve the first sharpness which the fine hand of Nature has given them; they are not so pleasant to feel
in return, the legend is so visible that, at the first look, you see whose image and superscription they bear. But
the French, M. le Comte, added I (wishing to soften what I had said), have so many excellencies, they can the better spare this; — they are a loyal, a gallant, a generous, an ingenious, and a good-temper'd people as is under Heaven; – if they have a fault, they are too serious.
Mon Dieu! cried the Count, rising out of his chair.
Mais vous plaisantez, said he, correcting his exclamation. I laid my hand upon my breast, and, with earnest gravity, assured him it was my most settled opinion.
The Count said he was mortified, he could not stay to hear my reasons, being engaged to go that moment to dine with the Duc de C-,
But, if it is not too far to come to Versailles, to eat your soup with me, I beg, before you leave France, I may have the pleasure of knowing you retract your opinion or in what manner you support it. But, if you do support it, M. Anglois, said he, you must do it with all your powers, because you have the whole world against you. – I promised the Count I would do myself the honour of dining with him before I set out for Italy:
When I alighted at the hotel, the porter told me a young woman with a band-box had been that moment inquiring for me. .... I do not know, said the porter, whether she is gone away or not.
I took the key of my chamber of him, and went up stairs, and, when Sentimental Journey, etc.
I had got within ten steps of the top of the landing before my door, I met her coming easily down.
It was the fair fille de chambre I had walked along the Quai de Conti with: Madame de R*** had sent her upon some commission to a marchand des modes within a step or two of the hotel de Modene; and, as I had fail'd in waiting upon her, had bid her inquire if I had left Paris; and, if so, whether I had not left a letter addressed to her.
As the fair fille de chambre was so near my door, she returned back, and went into the room with me for a moment or two, whilst I wrote a card.
It was a fine still evening in the latter end of the month of May the crimson window-curtains (which were of the same colour as those of the bed) were drawn close, the sun was setting, and reflected through them so warm a tint in the fair fille de chambre's face, - I thought she blush'd; the idea of it made me blush myself; we were quite alone, and that superinduced a second blush before the first could
There is a sort of a pleasing half-guilty blush, where the blood is more in fauit than the man; sent impetuous from the heart, and virtue flies after
not to call it back, but to make the sensation of it more delicious to the nerves; 'tis associated But I'll not describe it; – I felt something at first within me which was not in strict unison with the lesson of virtue I had given her the night before; - I sought five minutes for a card; I knew I had not one. I took up a pen,
I laid it down again, trembled: the Devil was in me.
I know as well as any one he is an adversary