Abbildungen der Seite

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 desobligeant; 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


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, d'un 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 remise, 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 determine 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 Mons. 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 walked along in pro

then en face; thought he looked 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 Louisd'ors, which is the most I can be overreached 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 remise.

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 opened; and so attentive to the obstacle that I continued holding her hand almost without knowing it: so that Mons. Dessein left us together, with her hand in mine, and with our faces turned towards the door of the remise, 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, 'tis 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 began the conversation instantly.

But what were the temptations (as I write not to apologize 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 desobligeant, because I saw the monk in close conference with the lady just arrived at the inn, I told him the truth; but I did not tell 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, 'twas not material; for the drawing was instantly set about, and, long before we had got to the door of the remise, 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 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, 'tis a shame to break with thee.

When we had got to the door of the remise, she withdrew her hand from across her forehead, and let me see the original: it was a face of about sixand-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,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 inquire (had the same bon ton of conversation permitted as in the days of Esdras) — "What aileth thee? and why art thou disquieted? and why is thy understanding troubled?In a word, I felt benevolence for her, and resolved, 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 remise than was absolutely necessary.



This certainly, fair lady, said I, raising her hand up a little lightly as I began, must be one of Fortune's whimsical doings; to take two utter strangers by their hands, – of different sexes, and, perhaps, from different corners of the globe, and in one moment place them together in such a cordial situation as Friendship herself could scarce have achieved for them had she projected it for a month.

And your reflection upon it shews how much, Monsieur, she has embarrassed you by the adventure.

When the situation is what we would wish, nothing is so ill-timed as to hint at the circumstances which

« ZurückWeiter »