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world “I had an affair with the moon, in which
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 centre, 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 tempered 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 with the account.
It was one of those heads which Guido has often painted, — mild, pale, penetrating, free from all common-place ideas of fat contented ignorance looking downwards upon the earth; it look 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 Brahmin, 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 'twas neither elegant nor 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 Intreaty; and, as it now stands presented to my imagination, it gained more than it lost by it. When he had entered the room three
paces, stood still; and laying his left hand upon his breast (a slender white staff with which he journeyed 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 igure 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.
'Tis very true, said I, replying to a cast upwards with his eyes, with which he had concluded his address: 'tis 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
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, 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 to my portmanteau, full cherfully should it have been opened to you, for the ransom of the unfortunate.
The monk made me a bow. But of all others, resum'd 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. 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 had 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
fer syllable I had uttered crowded back into my imagination: I reflected I had no right over the poor Franciscan but to deny him; and that the punishment of con that was enough to the disappointed, without the addition of unkind language. – I considered his gray hairs:
his courteous figure seem'd to re-enter, and me, on 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 walked out into the coach-yard to buy or hire something of that kind to my purpose: an old desobligeant,* in the furthest corner of the court, hit my fancy at first sight; so I instantly got into it, and finding it in tolerable har
* A chaise so called in France, from its holding but one person, Sentimental Journey, etc,
mony 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 desobligeant.
IN THE DESOBLIGEANT.
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 sufferings 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 burden which, in all countries and ages, has ever been too heavy for one pair of shoulders. 'Tis true, we are endued with an imperfect power of spreading our happiness sometimes beyond her limits; but 'tis so ordered that, from the want of languages, connexions, 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 impossibi. lity.